Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Life

The habitats of a medical student

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 02 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l2426
  1. Laura Nunez-Mulder, fifth year medical student1,
  2. Jaime Chan, fifth year medical student2
  1. 1University of Cambridge
  2. 2University of Bristol
  1. laura.nunez-mulder{at}

Being a fresher means a first time for everything: Laura Nunez-Mulder and Jaime Chan explain what to expect

As a fresher medical student it can be daunting having to get used to lots of new things. How do you know if you’ve prepared enough and what do you need to bring? To help, we describe the places inhabited by medical students as a forerunner of what to expect, how to prepare yourself, and the essentials you will need to bring.


What to expect

For the whole year group lectures are usually an hour long. Being late might mean walking past hundreds of students to get to a seat. Students are rarely called on to make contributions—although this does depend on the lecturer—and some questions may be deliberately directed at students who look like they might doze off.

How to prepare

You don’t need to prepare anything before your first lecture unless this has been mentioned by your faculty. After a few lectures, you’ll figure out whether you prefer reading notes in advance or going over them afterwards. Not all universities allow students to audio record lectures. As lectures are usually fast paced, it’s advisable to establish a system for organising your lecture notes early on. You’ll be thankful when it’s time to revise.

What to bring

Bring whatever you prefer for note taking: laptop, tablet, pen and paper. Suggestions for note taking during lectures include annotating a handout, making notes from scratch, or filling in flashcards. Universities and departments vary in the provision of lecture notes—some distribute …

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