Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into medical school. Now reality sets in: You’re on your way to becoming a doctor. As a result, your emotions may be taking over as to what lies ahead. It’s normal to feel nervous and a bit uneasy. After all, it is medical school. But the good news is that your hard work and dedication to your future career has brought you this far. So, what can you expect in medical school?

This month, we sat down with Dr. Gopi, associate professor in the Department of Physiology and chair of the curriculum committee at Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba for his keen perspective on what students can expect from the program, and the ways in which Xavier is committed to their success every step of the way.

Easing into the program

There’s no denying that medical school is hard. Dr. Gopi explains how students may well feel a bit overwhelmed at first, since medical school is most likely their first exposure to such a vast and challenging curriculum. “At Xavier, we take a gentler approach,” said Gopi. “The curriculum is designed to ease our students into the program. This not only helps build the students’ confidence but provides a comfort factor to help them advance throughout the curriculum.”

Here are some of the ways Xavier supports their students’ success:

  • Begin with fundamental concepts—First year students begin learning the basics of medicine (MD1). This helps ease them into the curriculum and prepares them as they advance to more challenging courses in the program.
  • Provide academic and non-academic support services—Each Xavier student is assigned a mentor. This support service is crucial for when students need someone they can trust with their academic and non-academic concerns.
  • Counseling services—Some students may face challenges and feel depressed, overwhelmed, or stressed out. Xavier offers counseling services for psychological issues, when or if a student needs them.

Proven modes of teaching

For the past five years, Dr. Gopi has led the classroom in the field of physiology. He explains how the manner in which how a student is taught is just as important—if not more so—than the material itself.

Here is a breakdown of the traditional modes of teaching used at Xavier that are proving successful for its students:

  • Interactive lecture—This two-way form of communication is key as it focuses on the students and allows them to interact throughout the lecture.
  • Small group learning—Through small group learning, students receive the skills they need for lifelong learning, which in turn provides critical thinking. Students will experience topics that include theme-based learning, problem-based learning, and flip-classroom learning—which is a methodology used to identify any gaps in the learning process.
  • Basic sciences—From courses MD1 through MD6, Xavier professors teach from a clinical perspective, much like the way medicine is practiced in a hospital setting. Instruction is focused on preclinical subjects with its relevance to a clinical case, which allows students to connect normal structure and function to its clinical perspective.
  • Art of clinical—During the basic science program, students are exposed to nine organ systems. The method of teaching at Xavier ensures that students are learning around the concepts of Integrated Clinical Medicine and Physical Diagnosis (ICMPD) and Objective Structures Clinical Examination (OSCE).
  • Clinical Sciences – After completion of USMLE step 1, student undergoes clinical training in various ACGME accredited hospitals for 2 years (Year 3 and 4). Clinical training includes both core clinical rotation and electives. During these years students start applying their knowledge of Basic sciences into their clinical cases.

Dr. Gopi stresses the importance of identifying the best mode of learning for the student. “Not every student learns the same way,” he states. “Some learn more effectively listening to lectures or videos, while others learn better reading the material. Overall, to be successful in medical school comes down to time management.”

Dr. Gopi’s tips for success

As chair of the curriculum committee at Xavier, Dr. Gopi has a keen sense of what methods work best for students who attend medical school. Here are some of his tips for success:

  • Attend all classes and lectures—Being disciplined and attending all classes and lectures are paramount to being successful in medical school. Missing even one class can cause a major setback in a student’s studies.
  • Be attentive during class—Come to class prepared and be attentive to the material being presented. Dosing off or daydreaming will only cause students to fall behind.
  • Connectivity—While listening to the lecture, Dr. Gopi suggests connecting the topic to a real-life situation. This methodology helps keep each student stay connected to the material in his or her own way.

Dr. Gopi’s shares advice to students

The faculty and staff at Xavier are committed to the success of their students. As a dedicated member of the Xavier faculty, we asked Dr. Gopi to share his thoughts and to offer any advice he would like to offer current and prospective Xavier medical students.

“The life of a medical student can be challenging. Every student—at one point or another—will feel like they are burned out. This is normal. When this happens, I advise my students to take a day off from their studies and do something that it is relaxing and brings them joy.”

Is becoming a doctor in your future? If you have a passion for medicine but aren’t sure how you can make your dream a reality, then now is the time to think about applying to a Caribbean medical school like Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba. Our graduates have obtained ACGME-accredited residency appointments in nearly every medical specialty and subspecialty at world-renowned teaching hospitals and leading medical centers across the U.S. and Canada. Apply today.