Time Habits of a Medical Student, MS2

Chris Hornung
3 min readApr 12, 2022


1,953 hours of learning in MS2 means 3,916 hours of learning as a medical student. The background for the project is here.

Compare to MS1

My second year of medical school was broken up into 5 separate blocks. HHD1 - HHD3 made up the fall term, while HHD4 - HHD5 made up the spring term. Each block differed in length, so I calculated the total amount of time dedicated to each block per day and per week to give a more accurate idea of my workload during each timeframe. More detailed information about each block can be found after the jump.

As the background tweet explains, I use this project as a means of becoming more familiar with programming and data analysis with Python. This year, I wanted to become more comfortable with statistics and so I incorporated some statistical tests. A Wilcoxon signed-rank test showed no significant difference (p = 0.18) between hours logged in MS1 vs MS2. Likewise, Kruskal Wallis test showed no significant difference (P = 0.058) between the total amount of time dedicated to each block. Finally, a Mann-Whitney test showed no significant difference (p = 0.174) between the total amount of time dedicated to the fall and spring terms.

While there was no significant difference between the total time allocated to school between blocks or between the fall and spring terms, how I allotted my time did seem to differ. The start of the spring term marked an uptick in studying for Step 1 and completing some research projects. Indeed, a Kruskal Wallis with Dunn Post-Hoc test showed a significant difference in Research time between HHD4/HHD5 and HHD1/HHD2/HHD3. Just visually you can see a pretty noticeable uptick in the percent of my time dedicated to research beginning in HHD4 (more about my research).

The below box plot gives an idea of the variation of time categories throughout MS2. The 12 hour “Other” data point was a day shadowing in the operating room.


I completed 267,554 Anki reviews in the last year which means that my spacebar has some pretty serious stamina. As I got closer to taking Step 1, I substituted Anki reviews with practice questions on the weekend. This was helpful because it freed up time for me to dedicate to my research commitments during the spring term

I had a love-hate relationship with Anki as MS2 progressed. On the one hand, it is an excellent way to continue reviewing all relevant information for boards. On the other hand, trudging through over 1000 flashcards per day can be mind-numbing. Regardless, it got me through my courses and Step 1 and I plan on utilizing it throughout my clerkship years as I prepare for Step 2.

HHD1 (Cardiology / Pulmonology)

HHD2 (Gastrointestinal / Hematology)

HHD3 (Dermatology, Rheumatology, Orthopedics)

HHD4 (Renal, Endocrinology, Reproductive)

HHD5 (Neurology, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology)

On to clerkships

The end of my second year of medical school marks the transition from primarily classroom learning to experiential learning in the clinic and hospital settings. For the next year, I will rotate through the core medicine clerkships including Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, OB/GYN, Surgery, Neurology, and Psychiatry. I will also have the opportunity to rotate through various electives.

My time tracking will likely be less granular for the next two years of school since it would be both inappropriate and inefficient to time how long each patient encounter I have lasts. Nonetheless, I look forward to continuing my analysis as I progress through my medical training.

Find me

LinkedIn, Twitter, Github, ResearchGate



Chris Hornung

A twin in the Twin Cities. I used to write a lot. University of Minnesota Medical School. I really like tracking things.