Top 4 tips for being the child of a medical student

The following is a post written by an anonymous guest author as a companion piece to the AMA article “Top 10 Tips for Living with a Medical Student.”

1. Keep track of their schedule. You are a source of endless joy and inspiration for your parent, therefore it’s critical that you know when their big exams are so you can give them a Dr. Toddlerboost the night before. Little things like fighting bedtime and then waking up screaming every couple hours because your socks are the wrong color or there’s a wrinkle in your blanket lets them know how important they are to you and helps them maintain perspective for their test.

2. Support a healthy study environment. Between learning doctor stuff and cutting your sandwiches into whimsical crust-free shapes, your parent may not have enough time to keep their desk tidy. You can help them declutter by pulling all of those messy papers, books and pens onto the floor. Your parent may seem mad, but deep down they’re overcome with gratitude for your thoughtfulness.

3. Hone their triage skills. Knowing how to prioritize urgent tasks and allocate resources in high-pressure situations is a critical skill for a physician, and one that most student doctors aren’t able to develop until they are residents. Thankfully, you can provide at-home simulation sessions to give your parent a head start. Below I have compiled a list of potential components for these sessions. Simply choose any 3 and then execute them in rapid succession:

  • Remove all clothing; initiate naked game of chase
  • Hide parent’s cell phone/stethoscope/wallet/ID badge/keys
  • Liberate contents of kitchen cabinets all over floor
  • Insist on wearing a certain pair of weather-inappropriate shoes; scream inconsolably as soon as they’re on
  • Scream inconsolably for no reason whatsoever
  • Learn to open Sharpie; unleash inner artist on living room furniture
  • Decide that you no longer want to use the potty (expel waste while running for maximum carpet coverage)
  • Find out what happens when you combine canola oil, cotton balls and the family pet

For optimal learning, I recommend holding these sessions 5-10 minutes before your parent needs to leave the house.

4. Facilitate clinical experiences. One of the many perks of being a parent in medical school is having an intimate look at pediatric illnesses. You can help your parent make the most of this advantage by exposing yourself to as many germs as possible. Drool-coated play mirror at the doctor‘s office? Lick it. Coughing daycare friend with greenish liquid oozing from her nostrils? Time for a big kiss. View the common childhood diseases as your to-do list for the next 4 years, and when possible try to have the onset of symptoms coincide with exam days so that the material is still fresh (literally). I know it isn’t fun to be sick, but believe me – all this firsthand experience will pay off big time when scarlet fever shows up on the boards.


The author would like her readers to know that she has TWO monkey band-aids on her elbow and that she does NOT want you to hold her hand because she can go down the stairs by HERSELF.