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The Summer Before Medical School

Updated: May 7, 2020

By Hithin Noble

The summer before medical school seems a whole world away now. England was in World Cup fever, the weather was scorching and most importantly, A -levels were over. How did I spend it? To say I was a couch potato would be an understatement, from watching Ross claiming he was on a break for the fifth time, to rinsing my eyes out every night after watching another episode of Love Island; I really had exhausted the best and worst of what TV could offer. Nevertheless, I had a great time with family and friends, and really enjoyed a well-deserved break.

I honestly had a stressful time looking back at Year 13. If I could describe the year in two words, it would be non-stop. From sitting the UKCAT in September, to attending interviews in January, whilst constantly managing your A-levels: it was not easy to say the least. I was working so hard and for so long, and when that final exam was done, I really didn’t know what to do with myself. It was a very strange feeling, a mixture of pure excitement, and a sudden sense of purposelessness. Whatever that feeling might be for you: enjoy It!!!

My first bit of advice is take the summer to do what you love, because you are never going to get this sort of time again. Whether that be going to Parklife, travelling, learning a new language or just having lazy days in bed. You deserve it. Because you want to feel rejuvenated for the next chapter for your life. I am going into my third year and medical school has been the most enjoyable, rewarding and thrilling experience of my life. There are in fact no amount of words to describe what you are about to encounter at university - not only in your path towards becoming a doctor, but as I think taking this time just to relax and recuperate is a really beneficial thing.

My second bit of advice is all about dealing with results day. My strategy at the time was to just push it to the back of my mind and think happy thoughts- Hell’s Kitchen weirdly comes into mind. I actually didn’t really think about it, until a few days before the dreaded day itself. During this time results was what I dreamt, ate, and breathed. I was over-thinking every scenario: should I have integrated instead of differentiating and why the blooming nora didn’t I revise titrations properly? However, looking back, there was nothing wrong in feeling nervous: it would be strange if you didn’t. Always make sure you have people to talk to: friends, family or whoever: it really does make a difference. But as cliché as it sounds,

all you could have done is try your best and work your hardest: there is really nothing more you could do at this point.

The day itself was just a rollercoaster of emotions really- the nervousness fortunately turned into joy and relief, which then suddenly turned into the realisation and shock of what this all meant now. I just want to say I also know people that didn’t have the greatest results day. It’s horrible, but just know medicine isn’t about the now: it’s for life, and medical school is always waiting for you. This might be a setback, but there are numerous ways of getting there- essentially, it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Finally, something I wish had done was try and essentially get in the groove of medicine more. What I mean by this is not do extensive pre- reading, but for instance, something I did was read ‘When Breath before becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanthi. Honestly, it’s such a thought-provoking read, and really reminded me of exactly why I chose to go to medical school and gave me a sense of clarity during the manic that precedes the final few weeks of summer. This also can mean getting an understanding of your course and what that involves: what sort of sessions should you be expecting and the type of topics you will covering in your first semester.

Moreover, apart from the general uni stuff (learning how to actually cook and the panic family trips to Ikea), one thing is to learn about the city you are going to. Is there a supermarket near where you are staying? How is the best way to get into uni? Where is the nearest chicken shop? All important questions that need to be answered. Also try and communicate with people on the course as well via social media. Its nerve wracking leaving everyone, and everything you know behind. You may make friends instantly, it may take some time, however with the countless amounts of people at university, there is bound to be someone that you connect with. And before you know it, uni will become your home away from home.

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