Monday, 22 June 2015

How to survive medical school

How to survive medical school

Medical school is hard. Really hard. And I think everyone in my year is starting to realise that now on the lead up to exams. There's just so much to learn. So I thought I would put together a little guide to help current, or prospective, medical students to get through their five years at university.

Work hard
Yes okay, I'm stating the most obvious one first. You have to work hard at medical school and put your all into your studies to be able to pass the exams. But break the work down into manageable chunks - set yourself attainable targets and work out which elements of your module you need to do that week, or month.

Don't leave your work until the last few weeks
I think this was a mistake that many of my year made in first year - work was put off until the last few weeks before exams, and partying happened the rest of the time. However this puts a huge pressure on you at an already stressful time; don't do it to yourself. Like I mentioned above, set yourself targets and try to keep up with your work as you go along. There will be a lot of it and you probably won't have enough time to catch up later on.

Say 'yes' to opportunities that arise
Get that paper published. Present that poster in a conference. Become the president of a society. Medics are expected to do so much more than just university work - we need to present ourselves as well-rounded people that can do more than read a book. Plus there is so much competition out there for certain specialities that you need to make yourself stand out. Keep this in mind from your first year and build up achievements slowly as you go along to add to your portfolio; even if you just start with joining a couple of societies.

Appreciate your non-medic friends
Medics are known to be very cliquey - I guess we spend so much time together for 5 years that it would be impossible not to be. However, make sure that you cherish your relationships with non-medic friends too, as you will appreciate them when you're sick of talking about acute pyelonephritis or ECG changes when a patient has second degree (Mobitz type II) heart block (which will probably be a lot of the time). It's important that medicine doesn't completely take over your life and that you realise there is a world outside of your degree, and these are the people that will most likely keep you grounded.

Make the most of your holidays
Medics traditionally don't get very long holidays - the most you will get in your later years is 6 weeks if you're lucky. Make the most out of them and plan lots of things to do, as these will become the things you look forward to and will help you get through exams. If you're a Liverpool medic, definitely make the most of your 3 month summer holiday after first year - it is the last one you will get. Don't take it for granted!

Have fun!
Don't work too hard all the time and run yourself into the ground. Sometimes you need a break, and medical school can provide the perfect opportunity to try out new societies or sports that you would never have thought of taking part in before. Spend lots of time with your friends, give yourself a break and watch Netflix all day if you need to, or go home and see your family. You will create some amazing memories at medical school and there is time around work to enjoy yourself. I made the mistake last year of working hard all the time, and I started to resent medicine and university. This year I have got my life much more in balance, and I'm loving it. Medical school may just be the best thing that ever happened to you.
What's comin' will come, and we'll meet it when it does.
               - Hagrid


  1. Hi Hannah,

    I loved reading this and I'm sure it will be really helpful to others - have just shared on Twitter! I'm an osteopath and that too is full on, particularly as most of us were studying while trying to work. Thank you for training - we definitely need more medics :)!

    1. Thank you! I hope so. I bet your job is definitely really full on! xx

  2. Oh wow. Medical school sounds really hard. I got the grades to get into medicine and teachers tried to push me into it and I was never interested. I'm loving my chemistry degree! These tips also apply to most students so this is a really helpful post!
    Love Hayley,
    Water Painted Dreams

    1. It is really hard but if you enjoy it it's okay. There's no point in doing it if you're not passionate about it! I'm glad you find these tips helpful too :) xx