Before medical school, I thought I had a good idea of what it would be like after I had spoken to current students and recent graduates about their time at medical school. However, after being at medical school, I realise I had many misconceptions about how it would be. Here are a few of the most important ones that I discovered and wished I’d known before applying.
Medical School is Like A-Level – There is a Curriculum to Learn and I Will Get 100% if I Learn It All
After one term at University I realised this one was a laughable idea. Medicine, and the basic medical sciences that make its foundation, are all too broad for a student to ever learn everything there is to know, let alone when you are given multiple of these immense subject areas to learn simultaneously. Additionally, the lectures you receive will, at best, merely provide you with a foundation of knowledge upon which to build your further reading. At worst, they will just leave you confused and lost! Then, the amount of detail you learn is up to you. You will never feel like you have learnt everything, but all you need to do is learn enough to do well – two things you will come to realise are very different. This idea is something that a lot of first year students struggle with, especially after the safe world of A-level where the curriculum tells you exactly what to learn.
At Medical School, You Won’t Have Time for Anything Other Than Work
After speaking to current students this certainly appeared to be the case. Weekend lectures and exams (thank you very much), evenings in the library, and countless lectures and classes sounded far worse than Sixth Form. However, though this may be the case in the first term whilst you are finding your feet with work and play, you will begin to realise this is not the case. Medical School makes you into an efficient working machine and your time management skills will become second to none. That the key to having a social life and still getting all the work done – being organised. Plan your work, do it efficiently (that means not working whilst watching TV etc.), and then go have fun (or sleep if you prefer). Or as many medical students love to describe it – Play Hard, Work Hard.
You Will Always Love Learning Medicine
You love medicine, you said so on your personal statement, so it stands to reason that you will love learning about it – right? Wrong. Learning medicine can be a struggle at times. Topics you will find interesting initially will become the bane of your life when you realise you have to learn them inside out for exams and keep forgetting parts of them. Other topics you will just not find interesting at all – just take biochemistry, most medical students worst nightmare. And finally, some topics you thought you’d love will turn out to be duller than anything you imagine – embryology, am I right? There will however, be some subjects that you love and will want to know everything about. That is the joy of medicine, it is so varied there is something for everyone. That said, you will probably enjoy the vast majority of your time learning, but come revision time, you won’t.
So, there you have it, several of the biggest misconceptions about medical school debunked. Keep these in mind when planning your applications and during your first year. Best of luck everyone!