Preparing for Life at Medical School: Freshers Advice

Maintain a Professional Image

University is a life changing experience and should be enjoyable, but always remember that university is setting you up for your future career. This means you have to carry yourself in the way you would like your employer to see you. As a medical student you are also viewed as a student doctor by the majority of the public, therefore you have to behave as such but remember you are not a doctor yet, your journey is only beginning. Watch the way you speak about your medical experiences in public places, the patient or cadaver you may be speaking about may have a relative in the viscinity. Always remember that being a party of the medical profession is a great privilege. Your fitness to practise can be negatively impacted by engaging in any illegal activities. Your social media needs to be closely monitored, be careful of what you post and make sure you switch set your privacy settings to ‘friends only’.

Look after your Health

Medical School is incredibly stressful and it very easy to become overworked. The fact of the matter is you will not know everything but what you can do is study strategically. Make sure you establish some ‘me time’ in your schedule plan a schedule for reading a book, sports, hanging out with friends, cooking a nice meal, or a similar activity that will allow you to recharge. Also do not neglect your health, make sure you register with a local GP and if you become overwhelmed speak up. There are several people you can talk to family, friends and student support officers, so do not suffer in silence.

Try and get enough sleep

University tends to be filled with late nights and early mornings but it is incredibly important to plan your time. Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your studies and daily functioning meaning you will not be performing to the best of your ability.

Be ready to learn

Medical School hits you like a tonne of bricks on the first official day of lectures so it is important to be prepared. Make sure you start organised, have your note taking strategy ready as well as any other equipment you may need to make the learning process easier e.g. Dictaphone, notebook etc

Make Friends

Everyone tends to be in the same position at the start of the semester in university; having left home and desperately in need of new friends so it is okay to be nervous. Try and be friendly and sociable, speak to you flat mates as well as course mates and the rest will be history. The process of finding friends in university tends to be quite seamless and natural so don’t stress about it.

Budget

Living at home is much different to living by yourself. Now you are in complete  control of your income you need to decide how and where to spend your money as well as consider saving. You can’t spend ridiculous amounts of money on nights out and then be left with nothing to eat for the rest of the week. Check out our Money Management Blog Post. 

Join Societies

You have the opportunity to try a variety of new things and a fair amount of free time. Through this you can make friends as well as refine certain skills and characteristics as there are opportunities for leadership and community interaction. There are several medical based societies giving you an insight into different specialties through practical workshops, talks from doctors within that speciality and opportunities for work experience.

Learn how to cook

You will soon learn that living on takeaways is not an option, not only is it expensive but it is incredibly unhealthy and quite frankly not a feasible way to live. There are many University friendly meal recipes available e.g. The independent Freshers recipes 

Modify your expectations 

University is not all fun and games, it is tough mentally, emotionally and physically. At time you may feel you aren’t good enough, but remember you earned your place at Medical School, the admissions team saw something in you and felt you will make a great doctor. Everything about Medical School is different to A-Levels, the depth, style and pace of teaching is a big jump. But do not worry, everyone is in the same boat.

Don’t rush into buying textbooks

Medical textbooks are expensive and heavy and there are so many to choose from. We recommend you wait a few weeks before buying your textbooks to give you time to ask for advice from older year medical students or you may just decide to borrow them from the library. Some universities also provide online versions of particular textbooks. Check out our Recommended Medical Textbooks Blog Post.

Keep up-to-date with current medical affairs

As you will be entering the healthcare field it is important to understand what you are going into, what challenges is this sector currently facing. Keeping up with what is going in the NHS is particularly important as it a major part of the healthcare sector in the UK. Also try and read about recent medical advances, research and journal articles. The world of medicine is evolving at a rapid pace and as you’ve devoted yourself to a career involving a lifetime of learning you need to stay updated.

Keep in contact

University can become a very lonely place, it’s easy to be surrounded by people but still feel lonely. You have to make the effort to keep in contact with your family and friends regularly. They can support you and also provide you with advice and motivation when needed.

Form good relationships with your lecturers

Do not be afraid to ask questions, lecturers are a great source of advice and they tend to be the one’s who write your exams. Talk to your lecturers and let them know who you are, this is a good way to help you pursue a speciality you are interested in and possibly get work experience.

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