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Diary of an Oxford Medic: Part Three

Diary of an Oxford Medic graphic

I can’t believe I’m two thirds through my first term! I feel that the medics have become more accustomed to the workload so I thought I’d talk about the things that we’ve been learning so far about how to cope with a medical degree.

Essay crises

Essays are a large part of the life of a medic –the correct way to do them is to first write notes on the general topic of the essay even if they are not relevant to the exact question because during the exam the specific question may be different, so you should have notes on the whole syllabus topic.

Then, from these notes, you write an essay plan with only the relevant detail making sure to include some of the experiments that helped us discover this information and the diseases that can arise from problems with the mechanisms described. Now, when you write the essay it should in theory be quite quick because you know all the material you need to include, and the logical structure which you will arrange the information in. This is especially important since most tutors make you hand write the essays since that is the requirement in the exam. As such, you no longer have the luxury of fiddling the paragraphs around at the end.

This all takes time, leading to the late night essay crises that is a quintessential part of most university experiences. However, something we’ve learnt is that a small social break goes a long way. For example, the college welfare team organises a Late Night Tea Break at 10pm and then a Late Late Night Tea Break at 1am where you can drop in for caffeine, junk food, and sympathy. This is always a comforting reminder that there are many other people in similar positions allowing you to return invigorated and ready for more medicine (or at least resigned to your fate)!

One of the best tactics I’ve found for staying motivated is organising an evening plan with a friend for a specific time, but saying that I have to get a certain amount of work done first. This provides mini-deadlines to work against because you don’t want to let them down by being late. It is good to break the work up into writing notes and then separately writing the essay because if you leave the whole thing to the last minute it is very tempting to just read the textbook then immediately write the essay which means you don’t have proper notes to revise from, and are unlikely to remember the useful information that doesn’t directly relate to the question.

Time management

Something I’ve found really helpful is utilising little spaces of time. For example, we sometimes have hour breaks between lectures where we would go back to college only to come back, or go for a coffee in town. However, if you bring your laptop you can actually get a lot done in an hour if you go to one of the rooms specifically dedicated for this purpose, complete with desk-chairs and a coffee machine.

By using these spare hours where you wouldn’t actually have done something particularly fun anyway, you can get your work done more efficiently, allowing you to have more free evenings where you can do actual events.

Fun fact

Oxford thinks that people tend to get Fifth Week Blues where they start to lag realising that they are only just halfway through the term but are so so sooo tired! This means that this week is full of fun events to cheer us up including bringing alpacas to college, a Disney movie night, and a puppy party!

Words: Irene Mathias

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