Updated: May 7, 2020
By Shanmathi Mahesh
I’m Shanmathi Mahesh, a first-year medical student from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston. I did my higher secondary education in Qatar and moved to the UK, to pursue my medical degree. Moving to the UK was definitely daunting and adapting to the environment and culture in the UK took a while. Preston is a small city, with a student-friendly environment. The university has a vast library and a well-equipped anatomy and clinical skills labs, perfect to assist us with our medical studies. There are also brilliant places in the city for shopping, and restaurants to dine-in and take-out.
Fresher’s week is an important time, which should not be missed, because it is the best time to make friends and get to know the place. I attended the fresher’s fair and the dinners that were planned by the cohort, helped meet and properly to get to know everyone. We also got to meet those studying in the senior years, which was really helpful, as they gave tips on how to study for university examinations.
It is important to experiment with your studying methods in the first few months of medical school, as the content is vast and the methods that you might have used earlier in high school might not be useful. It is also important to cover the lectures regularly, so that they do not pile up: organisation is vital in medical school.
Medicine is quite hectic and there are high chances of feeling exhausted or low, and hence it is a necessity to maintain self-care. Take part in events held by societies, play a sport that you like and always keep some time of the day for yourself, to do something you enjoy. This will help you feel refreshed and motivated to study. Friends are an important part of life in university, to make sure that you do not feel home sick. I have made some really great friends in my first year in university, whom I spend almost my entire day, and have been of great help and support. It is important to remember that healthy competition is acceptable in medical school, but most importantly, we are peers and must help each other out. Essentially, we all have the same overall aim and, as a collective, we are more likely to achieve them.
Placements are the best time of the year in medical school, as you get the opportunity to learn much more than in a lecture. It is something that I always look forward to, as I get to meet patients and get to experience how GP surgeries and hospitals work. UCLan follows an integrated course, which is beneficial for students, as we get to interact with volunteer patients during communication skills and clinical skills classes. Performing an examination on a patient or doing a consultation with a patient has really boosted my confidence performing these skills. UCLan School of Medicine also holds professionalism bystander sessions to provide holistic development for the students. This holistic development is assisted by frequent medical conferences run by various societies, which have really helped further my understanding into the ever-growing field of medicine.
The process of getting into medical school is long, however the anticipation of what you are going to be facing, provides the excitement and encouragement to learn. Furthermore, despite being stressful at times, coming to the end of my first year, I can only describe this academic year as splendid!