The leap from 6th form to university is immense – but the leap from 6th form to medical school can be likened to jumping from one side of the Grand Canyon to the other. But fear not, young traveller, for after reading this survival guide you will most assuredly rise to the upper echelons of the medical world.
One of the most important things you should do as a medical student (if not the most important rule) is seek help when you are struggling. You may be finding that lectures aren’t an effective learning tool, or that you weren’t able to fully understand a particular solution to a question or even something as basic as not knowing where to go on your timetable. Seeking help has to be an active process which you initiate – you are at university now and no-one is around to babysit you or constantly check up on your progress. Highlighting any difficulties you may be having early on in your studies is essential; it can be the difference between passing and failing your end of year exams. Pick out key people – personal tutors, lecturers, peers – and approach them with your concerns. Although it may be a bit embarrassing at first, it will serve you well in the long run and ultimately aid you in your success.
Get organized! That doesn’t mean simply file everything into neat folders and colour code your timetable. By organization, I mean organize the way you work. The volume of knowledge which you will be assessed on at medical school is gargantuan. You have to know anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, sociology, biochemistry and on and on and on. It can often feel like you are completing multiple degrees. You need to work out a method early on as to how you will record information in a format which is easily accessible and simple to remember. Acronyms, mnemonics, tables – however you wish to store information is it up to you. But always ensure that you cover everything because the depth at which you are assessed can often be microscopic. Many people regret glazing over a certain paragraph, sentence or even a phrase because it often rears its ugly head when you need it least – during your exam.
And lastly, you must persevere. Your medical career begins the moment you enter medical school and unlike other courses, medicine is unrelenting and arduous. You must recognize that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Pace yourself, find time to let off steam and always keep your head up with the hope that you will succeed.
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How to become the best medical student you can be was written by a Medical Student at UCL
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