Guide to medical school orientation week

September 16, 2016


You may be eager to jump right in and start your medical school education. Maybe you are looking forward to learning new things, completing clinical rotations and all the other challenges med school brings. But before you can start classes, most medical schools hold an orientation week.

What is Covered During Orientation Week?

Orientation week is a chance to be introduced to the curriculum and the school. The idea is to give you a brief overview of what to expect and help you prepare. Participating in orientation week can help you learn ways to navigate the next four years. In addition, it is a time to become familiar with the school, activities and your classmates.

Orientation starts by checking in and getting a schedule for the week. Routine things, which need to be taken care of, such as vaccinations, issuing identification badges and parking permits will be completed. Keep in mind, the structure of orientation week may vary, but it often includes activities, such as the following:

Team Building Activities: Teamwork is essential in medicine and during med school. You might as well learn to work well as part of a team right from the start.  During orientation, you may be invited to participate in different games and activities, which are intended to help you work efficiently with your classmates.

Social events:  During orientation week, several different social activities, such as picnics, sports games and barbecues are held. The events provide a chance for you to meet your classmates. Take advantage of the time just to kick back and have fun.

Speakers: You will listen to several speakers who will provide you with all kinds of information about the next four years.  For example, you may hear from third or fourth-year med students who provide information, such as study tips or how to deal with residents during clinical rotations.

Activities Fair: Most med schools hold a club or activities fair for incoming students. The fair is a great time to learn what your school has to offer. Most medical schools have a long list of clubs to get involved in. Some clubs are related to medicine while others are completely unrelated.

Course Syllabi: During orientation, you may be given information on the courses you will be taking your first semester. In other cases, you may not get a course syllabus until classes start.

Deans Reception: One evening during orientation week, you may get to attend the dean’s reception. It is a formal dinner hosted by the dean of the medical school for incoming students. During the dinner, you may get the chance to meet faculty and hear from various speakers.

White Coat Ceremony: Some med schools hold a white coat ceremony at the end of orientation week. The event involves presenting incoming medical students with their first white coat. It symbolizes their entry into the medical profession.

Additional activities may be included during medical school orientation week. As an incoming student, it is a good idea to take advantage of orientation. Gather all the information you can, listen to advice and tips and make some friends. Above all, try to enjoy the experience before all the hard work starts.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.