By Ameer Hamza
Firstly, congratulations to anybody starting medical school for the upcoming year, and to those looking into a career in medicine. This is an exciting time, and the start of a new chapter in your lives.
There will be lots of advice and tips varying between each person. However, I don’t like telling people to strictly follow exactly what I do. Everybody will find different things which work best for them. Despite this, here is some advice from my experience, which should help you through the start of med-school.
The first and most important advice I would give to those starting, is to enjoy the experience and moment! Whilst med-school can come across as daunting, involving nothing but studying and all-night sessions at the library, there is plenty of free time. Use this wisely to relax, socialise and take a break from medicine.
One of the major complaints’ med students have with the course is burnout from studying. It is important to have a good work-life balance. Obviously don't become a party animal by going out every day of the week but take some time out of your busy schedule to do the things you enjoy or broaden your horizons by signing up to one of the many societies the university offers.
Medicine is a very unique course; many people will tell you how it is unlike anything they have done previously. I can attest to this, as a graduate student, this was completely different to my previous degree and A-levels. I would suggest you prepare to learn again! Firstly, the course at Manchester is structured around PBL - group sessions centred around discussion of a clinical case each week. This is complemented by lectures, anatomy dissections and labs. The way the course is designed, allows for plenty of independent study, so get used to finding information yourself, and being organised and disciplined.
Many students also have the impression they should be carting around 6 different textbooks for each topic they are learning. In practice, this could not be further from the truth! Whilst textbooks do have their place, me and many others rely on accurate online resources for the latest information. Furthermore, there is no real need to purchase textbooks. The library will have most of the required textbooks or will be provided by the university as e-books, which I find personally easier to use.
Continuing on from here, with the workload and shift to everything moving online, I would consider going paperless. Not only does this help keep on top of your workload, but also allows ease of access to notes in the future. With the amount of information required, it is impossible to retain every small detail, therefore, being able to organise and retrieve these is essential. If possible, invest in a good laptop that is portable and you enjoy using, as you’ll be putting it through its paces through the course!
As mentioned before, one of the most important tips I would give to everyone starting med school, is to start carefree with no real preparation. Find out what works best for you and build from there, whilst also making the most of the experience and opportunity by enjoying it!