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Timeline for Medical Students

Stephen Canton is a third year MD/MS candidate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine/College of Business. You can follow him on instagram and linkedin.

Navigating medical school is a unique challenge but we hope this timeline will provide some clarity on the steps you should aim to take for optimal success!

Medical Student Timeline- Printable

Prior to MS1 year
  • Download Anki (or similar app); become familiar with Anki.
  • Look into pre-matriculation programs.
    • Example: Prologue-to-Medicine at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
    • These can very beneficial to getting your feet wet with the pace of the medical school curriculum to establish a tentative plan.
MS1 Year
  • Download Anki (or similar app); become familiar with Anki .
    • Note: many people give up on Anki because the user-interface is not very intuitive initially. However, give it a chance because the algorithm is conducive to learning and, more importantly, retention.
  • Build relationship with academic/ department advisor.
  • Apply for summer research programs (shadowing is also an option) at your home institution or another institution
    • Examples: Nth Dimensions, Rabb Venable, MOM, Vanderbilt Student Research Training Program
    • These programs should include presentation based deliverable (preferably a poster session) at the end of the research program.
    • This is an opportunity for you to build mentorship with your PI and potentially continue research during the MS2 year at your home institution.
  • Choose 3 potential specialties and reach out to possible mentors in that field. It is essential that you do this early.
  • Look into purchasing Kaplan or First Aid Rx
    • Begin to incorporate board-style questions into your regimen
  • Seek organizations that are of interest to you and pursue some leadership roles
    • Note: During pre-medical undergraduate education, many individuals sought organization leadership to pad their CVs for medical school, an unfortunate reality of the process. However, now as a medical student, you should primarily pursue opportunities that are absolutely of interest to you. Your energy will be pulled in so many different directions during this time – It is essential that begin focusing that energy into your most meaningful pursuits in medicine.
  • Stay connected with your lead advisor during your summer research or shadowing.
  • Some people like to start studying some of the second-year material using First Aid Rx.
  • Complete summer research program and present research in poster session or symposium
MS2 Year
  • Start to solidify YOUR study strategy.
    • This is much easier said than done, but is crucial before board exams, 3rd year, and beyond. Medicine is continuous learning – you will be learning medicine every day for the rest of your life.
  • Purchase UWorld for Step 1 (possibly Rx or Kaplan)
    • Seek discounts. Many people bring together their respective class/cohort to receive group discounts. Contact your school or class president about this opportunity.
    • Begin to incorporate more board-style questions into your regimen
  • Start to prepare your 3rd year schedule and plan accordingly. Meet with advisor/advisory dean for strategies. Never be afraid to ask for help in medical school.
  • Step 1
  • Some year-off opportunities take place between 2nd and 3rd year. Explore these options.
MS3 Year
  • Begin to look into possible year-off programs (research, Master’s, MPH, MBA). Do not miss the deadline and ask your institution early.
  • Become familiar with Online MedEd
  • Purchase UWorld for Step 2
  • Download
  • Begin to practice your presentation skills
  • Check out MS3 Survival Guide Tips
  • Check out Internal Medicine Recipe for Success for a proven internal medicine strategy for success
  • Start to approach mentors for letters of recommendation EARLY for residency
  • Begin to establish your subinternships (SUBIs) and away rotations, if applicable
    • Become familiar with VSAS and ERAS strategies
    • Make appointments to get the necessary titers (this can be the biggest rate-limiting step, so get this started soon than later)
  • Figure out the deadline for when you must take necessary courses to have the grades incorporated into your ERAS
  • Establish schedule for MS4. Careful with your vacation time; For example, may be needed for MS4 depending on how your institution’s schedule lines up with other institutions for away rotations.
  • Step 2 CK and CS
    • Register for Step 2 CK. Spots fill up quickly! 
MS4 Year
  • Step 2 CS and CK, if still applicable. Must take this before November to be on the safe side.
  • Finalize LORs
  • Submit ERAS for residency in September (EXCITING!)
  • Interviews (October-January)
  • Submit Rank List! (February)
  • MATCH!!!! (March)
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