Attending school in a different city, away from home, can be overwhelming enough without having to consider a heavy course load in a highly competitive environment. It’s the perfect recipe to leave you feeling stressed and unprepared. Rather than let panic set in, go in prepared with our overview of what to expect from your first few months at medical school.
Don’t buy your textbooks. Your course syllabus will contain a reading list of the books that you will need for each semester. Before you spend a lot of money on a whole host of books, check to see if there are copies of these books in the library or available online. Alternatively, ask the students in the year above what books they found useful during the first year. It might help more than you think, and could save a serious amount of money, which helps to relieve the financial pressure that most medical students experience in the first few months.
You will be expected to absorb large quantities of information in a short period of time, and you’re going to need to remember it. Don’t let yourself get behind in your studying as this can lead to a snowball effect. Create a study plan that will enable you to stay up to date with your reading and any essays you have, and try and stay ahead for as long as you can. This helps to alleviate some of the inevitable stress and pressure that you’ll feel as you adjust to the demands of your course.
Making friends with other medical students is a great way of building a support network made up of people who may one day be colleagues. You can talk to each other about the course, help each other to study and, due to the competitive atmosphere, push each other to perform that little bit better.
University can be very expensive, but you’ll need to carefully weigh up whether it’s worth getting a part time job. The course load you have will be incredibly heavy and there will be very little time to yourself, especially within the first few months. Use these moments to socialise, rather than continue to work elsewhere. Many students find that it’s simply too much pressure, especially during the first year, when you’re adapting to a new environment, new subjects, a new location and often, coping with living away from home with lots of new responsibilities for the first time.
Have a life
Don’t spend your entire university experience studying. Lots of knowledge is great, but it’s important to give your brain a break too and get out of the house. Make sure you have some time to yourself to do the things that you like. Spend time with friends. Do something active. Finding an adequate work/ life balance is essential when you’re studying to become a doctor and can ensure that you actually perform better when it’s time to hit the books.