How to Prepare For Medical School:
Some handy tips!
By: “Stilettos and Stethoscopes”
Medical school can be daunting. Once you get over the excitement of being able to achieve your dream of being a doctor, it’s time to start planning to get the best experience at the end of it all. Here are some handy tips that helped me through medical school:
Learn how to cook
Learn how to cook if you have no idea how to already! Honestly, this is such an important skill that you need before going to university. I am not saying that you should be the next Gordon Ramsey but for the love of all things good just learn that pasta does not take 2 hours to cook. Not only will it help win over the hearts of your flatmates, it will save you all the money that you would spend on takeaways. Plus, you do not want to be that person who cannot cook; trust me when I say that you will be talked about!
It may be boring but it’s essential to budget to ensure that you are still able to have a good time. I tend to use Microsoft Excel to keep my accounts in check. Don’t worry, it’s not as nerdy as it sounds because the formulas are super simple and it is a savvy way to keep your money in order. This also ties in with picking the right bank to join. Have a look around at all the banks and see what they can offer. I chose Santander because they offer a 4-year railcard which has saved me a lot of money.
I love making lists! I have a list for absolutely everything. It gives me an excuse to buy new stationery which I can never complain about. Even if you are not a psycho when it comes to being organized, it is super easy to just jot down a couple of things on a piece of paper. Try splitting up your list into sections: kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, stationery etc… and this will help you cover all the essentials.
Social media is a great way to meet all your potential flatmates and people on your course. I understand that introverts may find starting up a conversation more difficult, but going to university is your chance to push your boundaries and challenge yourself. So just pop up to someone who may be living in the same flat/doing the same course as you with a simple hello and you will be surprised with how eager other students are to ensure that they have a familiar face on their first day of moving in.
Being aware of your mental health is extremely important in the first year of university. Moving away from home, living independently, being bombarded with information etc…can be daunting. It is easy to feel lonely when you are living away from home so make sure you surround yourself with a good group of friends. It is also important to stay in touch with your family because they will be a great break from the university lifestyle.
Don’t burn yourself out because otherwise, you will hate the best years of your life. I cannot speak for other courses but this is something most medical students are a victim of. As a first-year medic, it is difficult for you to gauge just how much work you need to do to stay on top of things. I cannot stress enough how important it is to not go overboard with the work you do. Trust me when I say that the workload gets worse as you progress through medical school and the last thing you want to do is look back at your first year and regret not having a life!
Having said that, it is also important not to slack. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how you can get the balance right as it is something you have to discover on your own. I believe it took me about a month to get into the stride of things and figure out how much work I needed to do.
Joining societies is a great way to ensure that your life is not consumed by your course.
Make friends with medical students and non-medical students. It is so easy to become friends with medics, especially when you are attending a university that has around 50+ people in each year. Having medic friends is great because you are all on the same boat and at times of struggle, they are great at making you feel like you are all in one big family! However, talks tend to revolve around medicine to the point that you may have to ban the topic in conversations.
Buying textbooks seem like a good idea because it looks pretty in your room and it makes you feel clever. But they are incredibly expensive and in my opinion not worth buying. There are plenty of copies of textbooks floating around the web for free so get your hands on them. Or if you are a little old-fashioned and still likes the feel of turning pages in a book; raid the library or speak to people in the year above because they may be selling their books at reasonable prices. My saving grace was subscribing to the BMA which was free for the first year (and then it was £3/month) and they deliver books that you can order from their extensive library at lightning speed. Don’t bother buying textbooks before you get to university because different medical schools recommend different books.
Finally, remember that you were chosen to be at medical school. That means you are more than capable to tackle whatever your course throws at you. Always ask for help if you need it, there is no shame in that. It is easy to get carried away with the competitive nature of medicine but remember that you want your future patients to have a range of competent doctors that will treat them; so, what is the point in hiding away important notes/tips?! Most importantly, look after each other. You will be spending the next years of your life with a select group of people and they will be your home away from home.
“Stilettos and Stethoscopes” is a 4th-year medical student in England and author of a blog by the same name (Stilettos-and-stethoscopes.com). The blog focuses on Medicine, God, Travel, Food, Beauty, and Lifestyle. You can also follow along on Instagram here: Instagram.com/stilettos.and.stethoscopes
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