A Week in the Life of an MS1

My name is Ashley Keating Stahl. I am a first year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, where I am also a Kaplan Student Brand Ambassador. I graduated from Central Michigan University with a B.S. in biomedical sciences, and I did research In biochemistry. Here’s a week in my life as an MS1.

Sunday: Getting Ready for the First Day of My New Classes

During the summer, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine has classes called intersessions. Intersessions are short, 4-week intensive courses focused on specific topics. I am in Genetics Independent Study and Advanced Clinical Skills (ACS). I have ultrasound on Mondays and Thursdays, and physical exam components on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Intersessions can be intense, but can also be really fun! We will see how I like my new classes tomorrow.
As an undergrad, I remember asking every medical student or resident I met, “What did you do to get in medical school?” There are multiple things I did that helped me get accepted to medical school with no gap year.

  • I volunteered, a lot. I had both a long term volunteer position with responsibilities and I had multiple other volunteer experiences. I highly recommend finding something you care about and getting involved.
  • I got as much clinical experience as I could. My most valuable experience was working as a scribe.
  • I shadowed physicians every chance I got!
  • I became a research assistant and was even able to co-author a publication.
  • I kept my grades high and did well on my MCAT.

Medical school is extremely stressful. I advise finding ways to relax, and identifying coping mechanisms prior to starting school. You will need them.
[READ: Dealing with the challenges of Medical School]
Personally, I love gardening! This is my biggest stress relief during medical school. I can’t imagine dealing with all of the school related stress without my plants.

We always have preparatory assignments before each class. We have a flipped classroom model, so we learn as much as we can before coming to class. In class we work as a group, participate in hands-on activities, and some instruction.
Shout-out to Kaplan for always having my back when the materials school provided are not enough! These study sheets are the best!

Monday: My First Day of Class

Off to school! I am wearing scrubs today for my ultrasound class. I’m on crutches because I had a PAO hip surgery in February.


I’ve got my bag filled with all my doctor tools for Advanced Clinical Skills class. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays in ACS we see standardized patients and practice physical exams. Unfortunately I am unable to take photos while working with the standardized patients, but here’s a picture of me working at one of the computers outside of the patient’s room.


Heading off to ACS with a giant smoothie in hand.

We had a class meeting after classes today to prepare us for the beginning of our second year, or Middle Clinical Experience (MCE). They fed us pizza and salad!
I have a bit of studying I have to finish for genetics before I can go to bed.


Much needed coffee after my late night of studying.

Heading to ultrasound class in my scrubs again.

Meeting with my independent study professor, then off to ultrasound!


My favorite part of medical school is definitely the clinical aspects. I love working with patients. It reminds me of why I wanted to go to medical school in the first place. We don’t have clinics during intersessions, but my ultrasound class makes up for that!

Physical therapy.

During my second year, called MCE (Middle Clinical Experience), one of my rotations will be physical therapy. We also have a nursing rotation, adult wards, palliative care, nutrition and care management, emergency medicine, pharmacy, women’s health, pediatric wards, and newborn service.
Here are my MCE patches!


Packing my bag for school next week. It’s good to stay organized.

It’s important to take time to relax when you can.

Time to study. Thank goodness for Kaplan; whenever there is something I don’t know, the first resource I check is the Kaptest Essentials pdfs. If I can’t find what I am looking for I will look at the high yield topic videos or the first aid page number references. When I am studying for Step 1, I use the practice tests and quizzes.

Ashley Keating Stahl is a medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She graduated from Central Michigan University with a B.S. in biomedical sciences, and she did research in biochemistry.

Click here to add your own text