By Sarah Oladele
Hi, I’m Sarah, I’m 20yrs old, and I’m a 1st year medical student at the University of East Anglia (UEA). I’m in my 2ndyear of uni, as I did a foundation year, because I entered medical school with a BBB in my A-levels. I’m a unique case, but I have noted my grades to encourage you that it’s very possible.
What I’d have liked to know about my medical school:
· That my foundation/1st yearr medical school exams would be easier to sit than A-level science exam.
What I wish I’d known before applying to medical school:
· You’ll be surprised by how capable you are if you have a very logical brain, you don’t need to be brilliant. Your grades will only get you into medical school, your determination will allow you to graduate.
· Learn how to have fun while learning, you’ll remember things better. For your OSCE’s, for example, put on a drama show, your best performance, make it perfect, Oscar worthy. The more you have fun with medicine, the better it gets.
· Before medical school, medicine will seem like the world to you. But you’ll be surprised by how quickly your determination wanes. Therefore, you’ll need an effective way to keep your attention on your work, even if that’s the fear of failure.
· You’ll quickly realise you cannot put medicine in a box. Once you understand that medicine is an art form and everything links together like a giant map, and that the key to remembering concepts is not rote learning, but a true understanding of what you’re doing and why, learning medicine will become 1000x easier.
· Medicine should not be your whole world- you’ll go crazy. I, for example, was the ACS (Afro-Caribbean society’s) events officer in my 1st year while having a very active social life. It was so hectic but so rewarding at the same time. I also still manged to get mostly distinctions in my assessments, so it’s very doable!
What I love about my med school:
· We are NOT spoon fed. Believe it or not I hated this when I did foundation year, but as a 1st year I realised it’s PBL learning’s greatest strength. If you have to go away and gather the information for yourself while researching the questions you ask along the way, yes, it’s long and tedious, but it means you’ll retain far more that you realise and your understanding of topics is far deeper, and to do well in medicine you need to understand why.
· Its very placement based. I was very shocked at how much I relied on my placement knowledge in my exams, random pieces of information I’d overheard or just caught in lectures. At the end of the day, being a doctor is practical. You can learn the theory all you want but medicine is practiced and the more experience you have, the better your knowledge will be. For example, watch BBC documentaries on being a junior doctor.
· They are very supportive. The one thing I noticed about UEA was how kind the admission staff were from the day I had my interview. I could not imagine studying medicine anywhere else (so I am glad that with my grades, everything worked out this way). I can honestly say that the medical school does care about you. That was why due to extenuating circumstances on results day, despite coming short on my 3 grades, they offered me a place on the foundation 6-year medicine course as an alternative. I sincerely believe no other medical school would have done that for me.