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Student Views

Preparing for life at medical school: advice for freshers

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 28 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4695
  1. Yu Han Ong, fourth year medical student
  1. 1University of Aberdeen

Student BMJ readers give their advice . . .

Congratulations, you’ve made it. After a gruelling process of writing personal statements, taking entrance exams, and getting through interviews, you’re finally at medical school. In preparation for your application you might have carried out voluntary work, shadowed several doctors, or spent hours watching a medical drama boxset to gain an impression of what being a doctor is like. But how well prepared are you for your life as a medical student? Student BMJ readers offer their advice on how to survive your first year at medical school.

Adjust your expectations

Jonathan Mok, third year medical student, King’s College London

Arriving at medical school can be a shock. You are a small fish in a big pond. The pace and style of teaching will be different from your sixth form or college, and the size of your year group will be large—up to 400 in some schools. It will be like starting secondary school again, but don’t worry; everyone’s in the same boat. The main thing is to take your time and find your feet at your own pace.

Another fear many medical students experience is of not being good enough. Everyone else on your course will be as bright as you are, and that is the new norm. This might bring out the competitive streak in you, and it could mean that your standards will go up too. However, just because your marks at med school are not as high as you would normally expect, it does not mean that you’re failing. Medical school is meant to be hard and challenging. But if you feel that things are getting too overwhelming, don’t suffer in silence—talk to someone about your worries.

Maintain a professional image

Ellen Collingwood, second year medical student, Sheffield University

When you start medical school, you are not simply a medical student—you are also a student doctor, and this means that you are …

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