The musings of a fourth year English medical student

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

ADVICE FOR FIRST YEAR MEDICS



Wow! I cannot believe a whole year has gone by. It feels as if Freshers' Week was yesterday, and now I've done all my first year exams! The exams were pretty intense, I saw quite a few people crying after them. I had two exams on the same day covering all of the year's content. The first exam was okay, but the second one was a lot harder. There was a sagittal MRI of a pelvis and I genuinely couldn't tell if the black outline was a penis or a rectum! Safe to say imaging is not my favourite part of the course, and I don't see myself ever becoming a radiologist. It was one of those questions that you're fully capable of answering, but given that you didn't expect it you are completely thrown and your mind goes blank. 


After the exam, I went into town and picked up some drinks for pres and a new skirt that I wore when I went clubbing. I had the best night with my fabulous medic mates, and we all deserved to celebrate.

Medical school has been such a massive change for me. Coming to Liverpool to study my dream course was so exciting, but so much happened that I never anticipated. 

Here is a list of things that I think I should have thought of when starting this year:

Medical school is bloody difficult.
Medics tend to be the top of their class back at sixth form, and even those brightest students find medical school incredibly hard. Now that's saying something. Don't expect to understand things the first time you read them, like when you did your A levels. Repetition is the best way of learning the content, not spending 10 hours on a Sunday cramming.

You're not superman/wonderwoman and you can't know everything.
You can't do everything. You can't be cheery and enthusiastic every day. You will never cover all of the year's content. I genuinely believe that if I worked every day since I got to medical school I still wouldn't know everything that was listed in the Learning Outcomes. And initially, that's a terrifying thought. For A levels, we were all accustomed to doing every past paper, going through the exam board's syllabus and ticking off definitions and equations we knew by heart. There is no syllabus at medical school. I had ONE past paper, and one mock exam. This is the first year of their new course here at Liverpool, and so we couldn't get advice off of the older years because we actually covered a lot more anatomy/physiology/histology than they did when they were first years. 

Please, stop asking so much of yourself. You're so clever and determined, but you're not perfect. You need days off just to sleep all day and recuperate. Don't give yourself a headache spending ages trying to learn the brachial plexus in a day.


Your happiness is the most important thing.
There's no point being at medical school if you feel awful every single day if something else could make you happier. And if you're struggling emotionally or academically, don't let it go unnoticed. Talk to people, your tutors, your mates, your GP. If you have personal issues going on, it's important to fill in a mitigating circumstances form in case you fail your exams. The medical school wants you to do well, it only makes them look bad to chuck people out. They want to make the best doctors and that starts with knowing you are getting all the help and support you need. I had multiple health issues that affected my studies and I waited too long to get a diagnosis and treatment, as well as informing the university.
A lot of medical schools allow students to take time off between years if they need it, or to repeat the year. If you fail your exams and your resits, it won't be the end of the world.
Don't be at medical school for anyone but yourself. Be selfish, do what makes you happy. You are the most important person in your life and you should do what makes you feel good. 


You will question your ambition to be a doctor.
I never thought this would happen to me. I knew that this was my vocation in life and I couldn't bear the thought of doing anything else. But it did happen. When I got set a 36 page neurosensory anatomy pre-reading that took 3 solid days to make notes on, and even then barely understood it, I questioned if this was for me. Annoyingly enough, it turned out that the depth of the pre-reading wasn't even necessary to pass first year. 

You will meet the best and the worst people.
At college, I had a great friendship group. When I came to uni, I had the impression it would be the end of 'cliques' and social hierarchy that I experienced at secondary school. I was very wrong about that! Medical school is so clique-y. Some people who I thought were my friends ended up really letting me down. However,  I have made friends with some wonderfully nice and loving people. They are people who really care about me and have given me so much support and happy memories. They have made me laugh so much it feels like I've done a hundred sit ups.
Medical school will scar us and bring us even closer; I know that they will completely have my back, and that is so comforting. 


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