First Semester of Med School | A Reflection

Medical school is a lot about reflection and building upon existing skills.  Therefore, I thought it would be more than appropriate to review my first semester and discuss my experiences alongside any lessons I've learnt! 

1. Adapt your study skills.  No matter how many degrees you've done, you may still need to adapt your learning skills and methods, and that is okay! In fact, I whole-heartedly encourage people to change up their learning tools because you never know what might fit like a glove.

2. Change it up depending on the topic! You don't need the same study skills for each module.  For every subject, I had a different way of learning or taking notes and that worked wonders for me.

3. Deciles don't matter - passing does.  Remember, it is the patients, not peers, which will feel the effects of your hard work.  You cannot afford to 'forget' all that you learnt because medical school is just long-winded training for a job that requires a holistic approach for optimal management of a patient's condition.  Your first exam may feel intimidating and time may scary.  However, the first exam is only to test the waters and allow you to dip a toe in to get a flavour for what exam style questions would be like.  You may come out thinking you failed and end up pleasantly surprised at the outcome like myself! 

4. Extra curricular activities are possible, and sometimes needed!  No matter what you are doing in your life, we all need hobbies or passions to submerge ourselves in to bring our mind to something else.  No one likes to be saturated in only one thing.  Therefore, I recommend you pursue your favourite hobbies or even try to build new ones!  

5. You will make friends.  I was very nervous starting medical school, especially as a graduate.  I was convinced I wouldn't have any friends and need to be happy with being alone.  However, I have been blessed with the sweetest friends that are hard working and motivating souls. 

6. Your mental health is important - make sure you are observant of it.  Whether it be a case of Imposters' Syndrome, stress, anxiety, or even depression, remain mindful of your state and ensure you have people to talk to when feeling overwhelmed.  Things do get a lot more manageable, easier, and interesting! I highly recommend making appointments with your university's pastoral/mental health facilities or even a local GP surgery.

7. Time management is key.  Lack of sleep is often glamorised and sacrificing a good night fo rest has been seen as 'goals' by many motivational speakers and individuals.  Personally, I believe you should never let go of sleep but manage your time more effectively to do all you wish without feeling tired. 

8. Don't buy all the textbooks! Most medical schools have access to an online resource of textbooks.  The BMA have a free library service for medical students if they cannot get the necessary textbooks from their university one.  The only textbooks I recommend are the BIOS Instant Notes for various medical science topics (purchase whichever you find difficult - I own all of them as they helped tremendously during my undergraduate degree), and Grays Anatomy for Students because it is perfect throughout your pre-clinical and even clinical years. 

9. Don't let competition get to you.  If you thrive on competition, then try to keep it to yourself.  Some people find it overwhelming and it could negatively impact others.  On top of this, keep your successes to yourself - wear your success like a T shirt not a tuxedo.  No one likes a bragging Bill! Humbleness will go far.  Everyone is in the same boat.  The moment you start to compete, you may find your grades falter.  Work towards helping patients and doing your best for them not yourself and not to get top decile.  

10. A daily dose of self-care.  This is important.  We all need to relax and unwind from a long day and one form of self care that has really stuck with me is actually exercising! I am going to be posting my 'Month 1 Insanity Review' on Monday which will be very exciting!  Other forms of self care include skin care treatments, a hot shower/bath, putting a little extra time into your favourite meal, or reading a lovely novel.  On that note, something else I do when doing house chores or just wanting a fresh mindset is watch Disney and/or Pixar movies.  This may seem very childish but honestly, nothing is more wholesome and humbling than a classic kid's film. 

Where have I been?

I think this is what most people want an explanation for.  I did struggle since my thesis for my masters in terms of time management and the transition to a new university, lifestyle, and location.  It was a difficult time just because there were many unexpected speed bumps along the way.  I was struggling to think of blog posts and was suffering with, what felt like, chronic writers' block.  I was trying different things terms of my social media (like adhering to a 'pink' theme on my instagram which fell through quick- I just like colour too much!),  and was figuring out my 'niche'.  

Nonetheless, things are starting to come into fruition by looking brighter and greener.  In addition, I am trying to grow more comfortable in my own interests, desires, and skin which includes a long process of healing insecurities.  It can be a tough battle.  Thus, I stress the importance of number 10 on this journey of becoming a better you.  

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