Survival guide for medical students
Want to know how to get through medical school? Nusrat, our Trinity College Dublin Ambassador, highlights some of the things she wishes she had known about before embarking on her course…
Life as a medical student can be tough. The amount of information that you are expected to learn in a short amount of time is huge. Most of the time, you’ll be in college/hospital for more hours than students of other courses. You may feel you have to be on top of everything and feel under pressure because the person next to you is doing more work than you and time is ticking. It may be hard to find the balance between studies and leisure. Besides, you will also be exposed to emotional challenges especially when you start your clinical years; it can be a lot to take on board at times.
While all of the above struggles are real and you may be wondering why one would put oneself through this, it is also true that studying medicine can be really enjoyable. It is a passionate subject. You’re not only learning about the human body but you’re also learning about how to deal with people. All the experiences and challenges throughout the course will make you grow. The Medicine course in Trinity College Dublin has a variety of different teaching approaches such as group tutorials, lectures, anatomy practicals, inter-professional learning case-based discussions, clinical placements, etc. You are on a journey that will get you closer to your dream, that of becoming a doctor. It only gets better throughout the years and it will all be worth it in the end!
So, here are a few things I wish I knew before starting the course…
You need people. We are gregarious beings. Surround yourself with a good bunch of crazy friends and never forget your family; no matter how far they are, they are there to support you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling, chances are your classmates are going through the same challenges as you. Students from elder years will be more than happy to share some advice, just don’t be afraid to ask! Trinity College Dublin also has extensive student support services.
Make your learning fun
Indeed, it can be a challenging to get all that info into your brain and remember it long term but you have to trick it. Make your learning fun as indeed, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” There are various study techniques out there, you just need to find the one that suits you. While some people prefer to make notes from the lectures and recommended textbooks, others work best in study groups. You can use mnemonics or make flashcards, whatever floats your boat!
You do you
DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER PEOPLE. You are unique and so are your qualities and abilities. You can flourish in your uniqueness, so don’t be focused on what other people are doing. Too shy? So what, you can always improve. Too slow? So what, you are probably understanding more than if were just to glimpse through the material. The first few months – or I would even argue – the first year of the course, is for you to get accustomed to the course and to devise your own way of studying. It’s a learning process, so be patient.
Find the balance
You do need some “me”-time. When you feel it’s too much, then it’s probably time to take a chill pill and do something else, be it swimming, go to society events or sign up for that hiking trip to Glendalough for the weekend. Ireland is a beautiful country and has exactly what you need for a cut off. You’re probably going to study better after a good break anyway!