medical school

5 Things I Learnt in my First Week of Medical School

1. Things Probably Won’t Go As Planned

My first week of medical school didn’t go as planned because I ended up in bed for the majority of it with freshers flu. If you are not aware of freshers flu, it’s the name given to the illness that most new students get at some point during their first term (Hence the name freshers flu). The lockdown rules were designed to stop Covid from spreading, but they also stopped people from catching other viruses. And now, freshers flu is worse than usual. I went into a lecture last week, and I’m pretty sure everyone was ill. There was a constant chorus of coughing and sniffing. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so ill, if I’m honest. I had a really high fever, blacked out at one point and had a chesty cough. It’s hard when you start Uni and are just getting used to fending for yourself, only to have to deal with illness and manage it yourself. I remember cycling home from Uni on the Monday, getting off my bike and walking into a wall. I don’t know how I’d managed to cycle home. So, I missed all my lectures, but luckily they’re not compulsory. I managed to just about drag myself out to all my compulsory sessions, so my attendance wasn’t affected. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to go to all the events that I wanted to, but I’ll just have to start a bit late – I’m sure there’ll be lots of other people in the same position.

2. The Course Is Harder Than I Thought

I feel like I was thrown into the academic side of things more abruptly than I thought. I wasn’t expecting to have a gradient of the intensity of things to learn, but I guess, after a year of no studying, it was a shock to the system. The amount of work, coupled with being ill, was quite overwhelming, if I’m honest. I’m still trying to work out a routine because I think it could be easy to get burnt out due to the nature of the course. There are no limits to how far you can take the learning objectives, meaning it could be really easy to spend hours learning things that aren’t essential. I think that I will do this by strictly relying on the recommended resources – because they have been recommended for a reason.

3. It’s Difficult Having Friends On Other Courses

I think the biggest thing I struggle with in life, in general, is my fear of missing out, and doing medicine further intensifies this. People on other courses appear to have a lot more freedom with what they can do and when. Medicine is very demanding (and this is after one week). I can’t go out as much as other people, because I have work to do. I can’t just drop everything to go somewhere, because I have work to do. I think it is hard for some people to understand that. And it is easy for me to look at what other people are doing and feel like my degree is punishment. Like I’m missing out. Like I’m never going to be like other people. Like I’m never going to fit in. But that’s the degree. I want to be a doctor; I’ve got to put the work in. People are on different paths in life, and my path requires me to do lots of work. It’s my choice, and I chose it because I enjoy it; it’s only when I see what other people are doing that I don’t enjoy it. Comparison really is the thief of joy.

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4. Don’t Buy Textbooks

On my course, we get a big list of recommended resources. Yes, it is very inefficient and inconvenient to be lugging around books from the library and faff about taking out and returning books, but there are also many resources online. It may be an idea to have a basic set of books, I was given some by someone who had just finished their degree, and it will never hurt to have a few books on broad topics like medical sciences or anatomy. But, they are not essential. When you sign up, the various medical defence unions often give out freebies such as medical dictionaries, so you don’t need to worry about getting one beforehand.

5. You Can Still Have Fun!

I expected everyone on my course to be really serious because when you go to the interviews, that is obviously the impression you are given. But people are fun and good to be around. It might seem like there’s no time for free time, but there is. You just have to make the time. It might even motivate you to get the work done quicker! I think it is actually essential to be able to relax at certain times throughout the day. It isn’t healthy to be constantly working. So top tip: Make time for fun things.