Things I Wish I Knew Before Entering Med School

As quite a few on here may or may not know, I’m in my second year of medical school. So today I’ll be writing about a couple of things that I kinda wished I knew before entering med school. Perhaps I will deal with a few misconceptions along the way as well.

1. Chemistry as a pre-requisite

I know a lot of medical schools require you to have at least taken some sort of chemistry module in your pre-U/foundation/whatever you did before entering med school. So the question is, does it really help?

Let me tell you this. Chemistry was both my favourite and best subject in my A Levels, and quite frankly, it is of no use whatsoever. Pretty sure you can get by not knowing anything – even for your drugs bit. It was something that I still find a little strange to this day, especially considering that Biology is not a pre-requisite when pretty much everything you do throughout is essentially advanced Biology.

2. How Many Hours of Work Outside Classes

I’m a pretty lazy student. I’ll admit to that. Somehow I find myself time to blog, do sports and play DoTA 2. Quite frankly, there’s very little alternative time for me. The really important thing that I can only stress is that you have to work hard THROUGHOUT the whole year. Earlier on you might feel you can cram, but eventually when you need to link everything together, you’re gonna come to a conclusion, one way or another that you have done something wrong.

So, if you’re starting Med School, don’t be a fool. Work hard throughout. The top student of a few batches further up doesn’t even study for the last month – she pretty much covers everything before then, laughing at everyone else, I almost feel. That’s the standard I guess everyone should aspire to be. (and no, she has a life – which is why I find her incredibly admirable)

With regard to how many tangible hours, I guess a good way to gauge is let’s say you have your usual class hours. Then you have an average out of 1.5 hours to top that (throughout the year). I think that’s kind of ideal assuming you listened during classes.

3. You Don’t Need To Know Everything about Everything

I guess one misconception is that when you start learning something, there is this general idea that you need to know everything about what you’re learning. In many ways that is a misconception. You pick up a lot of knowledge in bits and pieces throughout. I mean, even when you finish your 5 or how many years of your basical medical degree program, you’re not going to know even a quater of the things about, let’s say and organ system.

In fact, you will be quite far from it. Don’t be too afraid about not knowing everything because as long as you are keeping up to date, and studying with a clear and well laid out pattern, I’m sure you can get through it just fine. I think this also goes hand in hand with all your textbooks. You will see piles and piles of textbooks in TV shows and what not. But the fact is that the content in the textbooks would be impossible to fully digest. There is way too much here, way too much there. You are going to be learning at a pace at which the human mind can digest, so don’t be too afraid. But you definitely need to study throughout the year, rather than cram it all in at the end.

4. Everyone is NOT Willing To Help Each Other

Yes, we are all aiming for the same profession. Yes, we all have similar end goals. However, not everyone is willing to help you along the way. I feel as though (at least in my experience) medical students are THE most selfish people in the world. Whether it be keeping to themselves what extra reading/activities/seminars they join in with to simple things like sharing new knowledge, you need to fend for yourself.

It is, in many ways survival of the fittest, so be prepared to fight!

5. You Don’t Really Need To Think Beyond Becoming a GP

No specialty that really catches your mind? I honestly think this is no big deal. Of course direction is good, but a sense of openness is good too. Put it this way, do you really think that you will actually be able to tell whether O&G is the path for you without even learning, let along trying it? Please, don’t let this be the barrier.

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