10 things medical students should know

10. Do medicine because you want to do it. Medical school is a lot of hard work, late nights, and jumping through hoops. Dont do it because you think you should: do it because you love medicine and dont want to do anything else.

9. The application process is scary and long but its very doable. Dont be intimidated by writing a personal statement or the prospect of interviews: you can and will get through them, even if you dont make it on the first try.

8. Try not to let the application process stress you out too much. Stay off medical school entry forums! Theyre not helpful and youll just get worried if other people are hearing from schools and you havent yet.

7. Enjoy the time you have before you start. You might not get very much free time while youre there, and you can use it to do something that might improve your application: volunteer abroad in a hospital or clinic, and go travelling. Medical schools do value that kind of work.

6. If you know any doctors, start being nice to them now! Theyre the ones who can get you work experience, which is like gold dust.

5. Go and see the school before you go, and check out the city or town its in before you start. Youre going to be spending 5 years there, so make sure you like it! Also, look at the course structure: theres no point going to a medical school that does traditional teaching if sitting in lectures all day isnt for you.

4. Go to things during Freshers the medical societies can get you good freebies or discounts on training days, which look great on your CV. Medics also organise the best events (obviously).

3. The workload is huge but dont let that put you off. Pace yourself no one wants to be pulling all-nighters a few nights before those all-important end of year exams.

2. Make the most of the time you have with patients. Theyre the ones youre going to be spending all your time with after you qualify, and you can learn more talking to someone with an illness than you can from reading a textbook.

1. Finally, enjoy your time at medical school. The friends you make there will be your friends for life, and youll have so much fun. Medicine is not like Grays Anatomy or even Scrubs. Its unglamorous, can involve a lot of paperwork, and can feel like a never-ending series of exams. But it is so, so worth it.

Additional resources:

Graduate entry medicine courses
Medicine in South Africa
Medicine: Not What Can You Do, What Have You Done…

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