23rd May 2023
Getting into Med School is a huge achievement and you should be feeling excited about the journey ahead – but do you know what Med School is actually going to be like? In this blog, Med student Keng Siang Lee lists five things that he wishes he had known before starting Med School.

Make Friends With Medics

The application process for Medicine is incredibly competitive, so it’s likely that you experienced competition and compared yourself to other candidates. However, you should try to avoid carrying these feelings with you into Med School – it won’t help your mental health and it probably won’t make you any friends!

When I arrived at Med School, the environment was dramatically less competitive and more collaborative than I was expecting. Healthcare is a team sport, so your Med School should actively encourage collaboration among students. To survive your first year of Med School, you’ll feel so much better if you all help each other out – and you might end up making some lifelong friendships in the process.

Also Make Friends With Non-Medics

You’re going to spend the rest of your life being friends with fellow medics and other healthcare professionals that you meet during your studies and later in the workplace. However, when you have a group of medics together, it’s only natural that the conversation inevitably turns to work, patients and research.

Sometimes you really need time away where you’re focused on something else. For this reason, you should make an effort to also find friends outside of Medicine who you share other interests with – e.g. movies, sports, culture, religion. There will be a plethora of societies at your university for every niche interest you might have, so join them!


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Establish A Study Routine

Although a Med student’s workload is intense, it shouldn’t be insurmountable. All you need is self-discipline and rigour, which shouldn’t be new to you, because you already have experience of working hard for your A-Levels and for the UCAT and/or BMAT.

Remember that it’s alright if you take a while to adjust at Med School. It certainly took me around a quarter of the first year before I finally got the hang of things. Med School is completely different from school because you learn new content daily, and you’re expected to keep up and be self-motivated.

Different students use different learning strategies (highlighting text, drawing diagrams, creating flashcards and so on) to aid learning and recall. The important thing to know is that what may work for your peers may not be right for you – so it’s wise to try out different styles and figure out how you learn best. You can take this quiz to find out whether your learning style is visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or social.

There’s No Shame In Struggling

Every student at Med School has worked hard to become a Med student. Most of you have aced your school exams, so you may not have experienced a lot of failure in your life so far. However, at Med School you will quickly come to learn that it isn’t easy (or common) to excel in everything. It might be difficult to admit that you’re struggling with an aspect of the course or student life, but remember that you’re at university to learn and people will want to offer you support.

If you have a problem, it’s important that you talk to someone about it and don’t keep it to yourself. You aren’t a failure and you don’t have to handle everything alone. You won’t get judged harshly or kicked out of your course for admitting that you’re struggling with something. Sharing with other people will only make you stronger and a better Doctor in the long run.

Stay On Top Of Wellness

Physician burnout is recognised as a significant challenge to the healthcare system all across the world. Medicine has a noble tradition of self-sacrifice and putting the needs of patients first – but this becomes an issue when medics fail to care for themselves, become fatigued, and paradoxically become less able to provide care for patients.

Depending on who you ask, wellness has different meanings. For me, it’s getting enough sleep, eating properly, and cultivating relationships and hobbies outside of Medicine. Despite my fond memories of living on fast food, I might have done better in my first year of Med School if I had made more of an effort with wellness. You might feel like you need to be studying all the time, but you will feel so much better when you get a good amount of sleep, cook yourself a meal, and take some time out to relax and have fun. Doing this will not ruin your chances of success – in fact, it will most likely improve them in the long run.


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