When prospective medical students picture their life at university, they imagine spending five years of in the library downing caffeinated drinks, deprived of both sunlight and a social life. And this will most probably be the case at some points of your medical school experience, but it won’t be the entire reality.
Whilst it’s important to dedicate a good portion of your time to studying, there’s still plenty of time to get immersed in different projects and societies that can really make your university experience more enriching and fulfilling.
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It can be really easy to get caught in the medicine current, where the only people you interact with are fellow medics that you see every day, and the only things you attend are your lectures, dissections and the odd event that interests you.
Whilst it is only natural to spend a lot of time doing medicine things with medical students, hanging out with non-medical/healthcare students can be quite refreshing sometimes.
They often have a completely different university experience to you, and even a different outlook on life than the average medical student, and sometimes it’s nice to escape that bubble.
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The easiest way to meet other students is through joining a couple of the hundreds of university societies on offer. Before you start your first year, you’ll have the opportunity to go to a Freshers’ fayre.
Here you’ll be in a hall milling with students, and you’ll be introduced to all the different societies ranging from sports to politics to anatomy to charitable societies. There’s bound to be at least a couple that pique your interest.
If you’re a diehard Harry Potter fan, there’s a society for you, but if anime is more up your street, there’s probably a society for you too.
Societies offer a great platform for you to interact with like-minded people who aren’t necessarily on your course, and in doing so you can ultimately widen your circle of friends. It also offers the platform to go beyond your comfort zone and listen to talks that may contradict your own beliefs.
You’re free to attend events by religious or political societies, even if you don’t share those beliefs or values. This means you get to meet people who are also completely different to you; you’ll be exposed to different or even controversial opinions, and it will allow you to grow.
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As a medical student, again, it’s really easy to sign up for and find familiarity in the GP or psychiatry society, the anatomy or dermatology society, or the intensive care or oncology society.
You already know you may find them interesting, so you go along to the socials and events and enjoy them, and learn something more about medicine. And while that’s all well and good, and even recommended if you have a special interest in those fields, it’s equally if not more important to attend societies that stray from medicine.
It’s important in giving you some perspective and reminding you that there is life beyond this course, and you are not solely a medical student or a doctor. It also provides a great outlet when medicine gets overwhelming, and you want to do something different that doesn’t remind you of your exams or the revision you haven’t yet done.
You can immerse yourself in the competitiveness of sport, or the great discussions in debate society or book club, or make a fool of yourself in the circus society as a distraction. This is important, because medicine can be demanding and stressful, and you don’t want it to feel like it is the only thing that defines you as a person.
This post isn’t here to tell you which societies to join, but rather to encourage you to join some. Give yourself the opportunity to not just academically grow, but grow through developing new skills and meeting new people, and broaden your mind.
Whilst being a good medical student should be your priority at university, societies are a great and easily accessible opportunity for you to make friends, learn new things and discover and define yourself beyond being a ‘medical student’.
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Words: Latifa Haque
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