Between Admit & the 1st Day (of SMP)

Updated: Mar 23

Once you've cozied up to the idea of completing a special master's program (SMP), you might find yourself wondering "what's next"?

If you are anything like me, you understand that waiting is the WORST.

Below are a few things that you can do in the in-between time to set yourself up for the best success come that fateful first day of classes.

First, what kind of a timeline are you looking at?

Some of the milestones that followed my SMP application:

  • application submitted 12/23

  • video interview submitted 1/19

  • admission offer letter received 2/7 (dated 1/29)

  • accepted students information session 5/22

  • accepted students information session 7/9

  • 1st day of classes 8/10

From the date I received my offer of admission I had an entire 6 months to live a full life before mine was to be overcome by studying. <-- no joke. Very serious.


Because I wanted to share in my excitement (and anxiety), I hopped immediately on creating a place for other accepted students to connect.

My platform of choice was Facebook--where anyone can create a group.

Once I made the group, I posted the link on SDN and let it take flight.

In no time at all, my cohort joined to collaborate and commiserate.

We asked questions, sought roommates, shared documents (that evolved into a shared Google Drive), and got even closer through creating a WhatsApp class chat.

Connecting on social media allowed us to start putting faces to names (something really valuable in peak COVID era).

Another completely invaluable benefit: we connected with previous students who had since matriculated to the medical school and were willing to be the best mentors. You want these peeps on your side.

If there is one thing I hope for you in your academic endeavors, it's that you have a supportive and sharing class. I was blessed with this.

Our shared Google Drive was our main go to.

We shared everything with each other. Everything.

Studying medicine is hard. And, unfortunately, not everyone will make it in the end. But I dare say... it's not very physician-ly of someone to not want everyone to be set up for success as much as humanly possible.

Out with the competition!

(It'll happen organically on its own, without any fuel on that fire.)

I digress.

My class was top-notch so we shared note outlines, Anki decks, textbooks, hand-me-down study stuff from previous students, etc., etc.

It also meant that we had a space already ready to go for any group work that came up, allowing multiple students to edit documents simultaneously.

We announced new additions to the Google Drive within our class WhatsApp chat.

This was our kind way of keeping everyone in the loop so that we all had timely access to a plethora of resources.

While it's true that it may have been distracting on occasion, a number of us were often logged on during lectures so we could consult each other when a beat was missed, instead of stopping the lecturer.

WhatsApp was also a way for us to help keep each other on track with any unusual scheduling and avoid snafus. It takes a village.


To study or not to study... that is the million dollar question.

Rule of thumb: don't do it!

Do anything BUT study in your time before starting an SMP.

Why not? An SMP is like medical school SparkNotes/CliffsNotes... but it's still a mountainous volume of information.

Burnout is a real thing, you will experience it in an SMP.

Pre-studying, means a longer stint of studying = earlier burnout.

But you may consider exploring some study tools, without actually studying any content.

It's a super-duper idea to familiarize yourself with some common softwares that are medical student favorites.

#1: Anki

I believe most of my peers converted to Anki.

It's a great tool that DOES NOT require any coding knowledge, however, there is a bit of a learning curve to get up to speed and use it efficiently. Hence, why I think this is a great non-study activity you could start dedicating some time to now.

Seems like every medical student has made a YouTube video about how to use Anki, but for getting back to the basics I highly recommend the AnKing channel.

As Start Day nears (or once classes commence), consider testing out trials of Osmosis, Sketchy Medical, and Pixorize. Don't forget to reach out to them about group discount codes (if you can recruit a group of your peers to also invest).

I've had subscriptions to all 3 and truly wouldn't have survived my SMP without them.


Maybe most importantly,

put your affairs in order:

  • resign from work

  • secure child care

  • binge watch... and then cancel your Netflix subscription

  • bulk orders (pantry staples, toilet paper, diapers, and such)

  • deep clean

  • meal plan

  • daily/weekly schedule plan (and commit to sticking to it)

  • HAVE FUN (set expectations and let your loved ones know you will be going MIA)

Yes, you really should quit working... but don't trust me. Trust these previous SMP students who convinced me to quit before starting my program.