It’s perfectly natural to feel worried about starting medical school. Plenty of people have felt this way before you and you certainly won’t be the last. Moving away from home to university can be a big adjustment and as much as you prepare for your new life, you won’t really know what it’ll be like until you get there.
Below are the five most common worries about starting med school with answers that will hopefully help to ease your nerves.
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Medical school is always going to feel like a big jump from sixth form/college, but (as cliche as it sounds) it is really important to remember that everyone is in the same boat!
The key thing is to try not to worry and over think this and just get involved with your course as much as you can. It’s also a good idea to join societies that interest you too.
At medical school you spend a lot of time with other medical students, so you make friends with the people on your course really quickly! Making friends with people in older years can also be very beneficial as they can help you with the course or with other concerns you may have.
It is important to make friends outside of the medical school too, as this can really enhance your overall university experience and bring about opportunities that you might not have been introduced to otherwise.
Most medical students will tell you that you do not need to prepare for starting medical school and this is somewhat correct. You should definitely use the long holiday in between finishing exams and starting medical school as a nice break, as you’ll have a demanding timetable when you start med school.
You definitely don’t need to buy any academic equipment, such as textbooks over the summer. Most people find it is much easier to wait until you get to university to do this, as some medical schools prefer you to use certain textbooks.
In terms of specialist equipment, e.g. stethoscopes, it is best to find out what your medical school wants you to bring, but make sure you read their guidelines thoroughly. By all means, treat yourself to a nice selection of new stationary to take to medical school with you though.
Every course is different and hopefully you are aware of roughly what your course entails. Most medical schools will publish a brief outline of a timetable, so you can get an idea of how many lectures/clinical sessions/PBL groups you will have.
Some medical schools have a very full timetable, so this could feel quite similar to what an average school day would feel like, however, others have a lot more self-study time. But, just like anything, you will adjust to this and find out what works best for you!
Hopefully, you will also be aware of the sort of topics you will cover in first year; at most medical schools you will learn human anatomy and physiology. This does feel slightly different to A-levels as there is no syllabus but, as said before, you quickly adapt to the teaching style.
Everyone deals with the workload at medical school differently. Some people will find certain aspects of the course more intense and challenging than others. However, in general, first year is not too intense, which is one of the common worries about starting med school.
Making sure you stay on top of your work is really beneficial and this will help you feel less stressed. The workload does tend to differ throughout the year, as you might expect, but you will find what works for you and this will make it less intense.
Overall, I feel as though the workload is not as intense as everyone fears, and if it does become too much there are lots of people you can talk to, whether that be academic staff, the university support team or students in older years.
5. Is it possible to have a good course-life balance?
Yes, absolutely! It is a common misconception that medical students only work and do not have time for extracurricular activities. You will have more time than you imagine, and it is really important to keep doing the things you love or trying new things out.
Universities have so many societies and events on offer that you can get involved with and I would thoroughly recommend doing so. These are two of the best ways to meet many new people and have a break from working hard in the day.
Down time at uni is so important and beneficial, especially at medical school. It can be tempting to work all the time but know when to stop and take a break. Whether you use your down time to play a sport, go out with friends or join a society – find something that works for you!