UCL Medical School Student Survival Guide
3 Feb 2021 1 comment
While you are at medical school, you are training to be a doctor. However, you are also learning how to balance who you want to be as a doctor with who you want to be as a person.
Medical school is not easy. It is hugely demanding of your time, energy, and of you as a person. There is always more to learn and more to give and it can feel all-consuming if you let it. This is also what life as a doctor is like.
Here are our top tips on how to survive UCL medical school.
Make use of the doctors around you, join forces with your peers and do practise questions. Make your learning as interactive as possible and have small definable goals to work towards each time you study. When you study:
- Be patient with yourself - you won’t understand everything the first time round!
- Ask questions – clarify your understanding and ask about things you do not understand, even small things! This is your time to learn, embrace it!
- Test yourself – test your knowledge and abilities, the more you do this the better your learning.
- Learn the key concepts well.
- Invest time in what you enjoy and share it with others - societies are great and they don’t have to be RUMS! Make time to do things that make you happy.
- Be kind to yourself and others - check in regularly, make time to look after yourself, be there for yourself. Prioritise your own health: sleep, exercise, and eat well.
- Have honest conversations with your friends about how you are feeling.
- Ask for help early if you are unhappy, finding things difficult or your mental health is suffering. There are so many people, resources and services here for you! Check out the Medics4Medics website for a rundown of support systems available to you: https://www.uclm4m.co.uk/support-services
Coping with the challenges of medical school
- Take time away from medicine, prioritise your work-life balance. Better grades won’t necessarily make you a better doctor.
- Medical school is long. It can help to think of it in stages and short-term goals for your own motivation. Remember that in the move between stages there will be significant changes and new things to adapt and adjust to.
- You are not perfect. You will make mistakes and that is okay. Taking on the responsibility of being an almost doctor is a lot of pressure. We are only human, and we're allowed to have personal stuff going on, to find things difficult, to struggle and to fail.
- Make an effort to be kind to your peers and talk to everyone. Each year you will have more opportunities to get to know different people in your year group. Put in the effort and don’t judge a book by its cover, it is so worth it! You are each other’s best support system.
- Don’t feel left out if you’re not in a clique. There are lots of people not in cliques.
- Be aware and alert of making relative comparisons between yourself and your peers. As medics we tend to be innately competitive people. Competition can provide us with motivation, however, we need to realise that we cannot define ourselves by comparing ourselves to others. We are more than the sum of our parts; we are all individuals with our own strengths and weaknesses, on our own journeys. Enjoy your journey, embrace your strengths and don’t compare yourselves to others.