How to Prepare for Medical School

Firstly, we’d like to begin by congratulating our upcoming Medical Students, welcome to the family. We understand that right now you’re probably experiencing a whirlwind of emotions; excited to begin your dream course, worried about leaving home and anxious realising that it’s all real, you will become a doctor. We get a lot of questions asking about what you can do to prepare and so we’ve come up with a list of points and hope that this blog post can be of help to you. If you’re not sure of what to take to University then check out our University Checklist blog post too.  

1. Check your emails and keep up to date. 

From the day you receive your offer your emails become your best friend, this is how the majority of information you’re given will be communicated. Get into the habit of checking your emails at least twice a day, in the morning before you leave your accommodation and also in the afternoon. Once you receive your university email address try and set up the account as part of your phone mail so that your emails are easily accessible and all in one place.

2. Join Facebook group chats

There should be Facebook chats set up for year 1 Medics 2017/18 Medics, this may be different to the offer holders chat as not every offer holder will have got in to your medical school. The group chats give you the opportunity to socialise as well as ask any questions you may have. Normally the chat will have been set up by a member of the med Soc committee (an older medical student) so they are on hand to answers any enquiries and offer encouragement and support as you prepare for Medical School.

3. Organisation

Make sure you have Folders to organise your work sheets or handwritten notes and also make use of dividers to section each topic. Create folders on your laptop to make it easier for you to easily access previous work. Also ensure you have a memory stick to back up your work onto as you do not want to be stranded if your laptop crashes.

4. Keep a diary/ journal

Cultivate the habit of writing things down, e.g. Deadlines, pre-reading, to do lists etc. Keeping a diary gives you the time to pre plan your day and reflect, if you write your plans down you’re more likely to do it. Whether it be on your phone or a physical copy keeping a diary is extremely beneficial. You can note your experiences if you’ve had an interesting day at placement for example, keeping a diary/ journal is helpful in the long run as when you look back on what you’ve previously written you can recognise and appreciate your growth and your journey.

5. Establish your note taking strategy early on

Decide whether you will be taking your notes on your laptop, by handwriting them or using a tablet. If you feel like one of these strategies is not working for you do not hesitate to change your strategy quickly. The quality of your notetaking determines how much revision you have to do.

6. Have a suitable device to record lectures 

Some medical schools do not record the lectures for students but we would recommend you take this into your own hands by recording the lectures yourself anyway. Recording lectures is great especially towards exam season, it allows you to go over and fill in gaps in your notes from lectures and also it is good to have it available until you understand. We would recommend that you create a file (e.g. Google drive) to put all your titled lecture recordings.

7.  Do not buy textbooks before you start

You will be given your reading list fairly soon but we advise that you stay away from making any purchases prematurely. Medical textbooks are extremely expensive as you’ll soon come to realise and the worst thing is buying a super expensive textbook you only need once during the entire year. Once you start university, request and borrow the books you need and see whether you like them before purchasing your own copy. Also ask older medical students what books they would recommend you buy and don’t buy as they would know what is useful.

8. Don’t pre-read before you start

After finishing your A-Levels, summer is that well deserved break needed after all that hard work so don’t ruin it by stressing out about pre-reading. It is not necessary for you to get ahead, most medical schools go over the basics in the first few weeks anyway because they know that many people took different subjects and also you would have had 3 months away from education so they ensure every one is brought up to the same level. They will teach you all the medicine you will need in a more organized and structured format and remember you will be learning medicine for the rest of your career so enjoy your summer now, you deserve it!

9. Join societies

Freshers fair is a great opportunity for you to see what the university has to offer. We recommend you join at least one society other than Med Soc. Societies are a great way for you to meet new people, socialise and develop new or existing skills and hobbies. Due to the hectic nature of Medics’ timetable there tends to be Medic versions of particular societies e.g. Medics Netball, Medic Rugby etc. Also if you know what aspect of Medicine you’d like to specialise in join that society or if it doesn’t exist create one; these societies are a great way to get involved as well as network with doctors and gain experience.

10. Create a timetable once you get your official one

Create a timetable of how you will distribute your time outside of lectures and tutorials etc. Make sure it is realistic and you give yourself time to rest, socialise but also sufficient time to study. You have to be disciplined enough to stick to it. Also try and sync your University timetable to your phone Calender, it is very helpful to know what you’ve got coming up whilst on the go and if it is synced and changes are made to your timetable it tends to change automatically.

11. Make Friends

Try and get talking to people who are going to the same university as you. Even though it is easier to be friends with just medics because of how intense the timetables are, do not restrict yourself to being friends with only medics but make friends on other courses to maintain your sanity. Don’t worry if you’re concerned about making friends as you tend to become friends with your flatmates and subsequently their course mates too.

12. Set realistic academic & non-academic goals for yourself

To brace yourself for the difficult year ahead it is important to set yourself goals academically and also outside of medicine so that they can act as motivation on you down days. Know what you’re working towards and how you intend to achieve it. It’s important to maintain your dreams and ambitions, don’t let your career define you and know that you are much more than Medicine alone.

13. Talk to current med students (year 2’s most helpful) 

A few medical schools have mentorship programs in place where a second year medical student mentors the first year medical student. Second year medical students are extremely helpful and help you to ease into Medical School life as they have very recently gone through what you are about to go through therefore they can offer great advice and tips as well as support and encouragement. If your medical school does not have a mentorship program in place then do not hesitate to make contact with second year Medics yourself.

14. Full force from day 1

After induction talks, the first day of proper class is intense as you know you are expected to learn a huge volume of material in a short span of time. From day one, the material matters and, from day one, it is voluminous. If you get behind, it’s really hard to catch up. Make sure you have everything you need.

PREPARING FOR THE FIRST DAY 

> What to pack

  • Notebook
  • Highlighter
  • Pen
  • ID
  • Laptop
  • Dictaphone
  • Diary
  • Mobile Phone
  • Purse/ Wallet
  • Water
  • Tissues

> Plan your journey the night before and give yourself enough time in the morning to also navigate your way around the building and make sure you get there early.

> Eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and also bear in mind that your likely to have a long day (9-5) so make sure you have something to eat. You’d hate for your stomach to rumble in a silent lecture theatre, not the best way to make a first impression.

> Reach out to other Medics in your accommodation. If you don’t already have a  group chat with Medics in your accommodation the night before your first day then make one so you can all walk to your first couple of lectures together.

We hope this has helped ease your nerves and prepare you for the year ahead. Current Medics if you have other preparation advice, comment below. Feel free to Contact Us or ask questions, we’re always on hand to answer.

 

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