Lessons I’ve taken from my first year of Medicine

Typing notes does not mean you wont understand them.

I am a very much in the “I hand write my notes corner” because it feels more natural to me and there is actually scientific evidence to show handwriting is better for memory retention! However, despite surviving block 1 , I was quickly learning that hand writing was not going to be something that I could keep up with. In Block 2 I switched to typing my notes up and it was a revelation. I could get things down quicker and it meant I could write my notes based of the learning objectives and not just the slide content. This meant I could say I covered everything I was meant to have covered in the lecture. It also meant I could just take images off the slides if I liked them or in the case of block two , directly copy the equations across. I still kept up with some hand written notes for anatomy and for some lectures where I wanted to draw out the processes but this worked wonders for me! I also learnt that this could be done during the lecture for some topics meaning that I saved time.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

This was a huge thing for me as it’s become apparent I have a bit  of an inferiority complex. I constantly think everyone is better than me and anything I say is automatically wrong. I’ve had to learn that everyone may look like they are ahead of me and know everything but it does not matter. They are not taking my exam, I am. I have had to learn to take thigs at my own pace and not to panic if someone knows something that I don’t. Once I had done this, life was a lot easier. This was especially true during the intense revision period. If I heard people talking about topics of which I had no clue on (a prime example being pharmacology), I just had to remind myself that although I didn’t know it at that moment , there was nothing to stop me learning and there were things I knew really well that perhaps they didn’t. Once you come to accept this, then med school becomes a lot easier.

You are not going to learn everything.

This was a particularly hard pill to swallow and to be honest, although I thought I had accepted it multiple times during the year, I didn’t allow myself to realise it fully until the final weeks before exams. You only have to look at the size of some medical textbooks to see how much there is to know, and you just can’t know everything. Try by all means but, the sense of relief and calm that came over me when I allowed myself to accept this fact was amazing. I did try and learn the things that my course mates were talking about that I maybe didn’t know but I stopped kicking myself when I didn’t know something and instead just accepted the fact I didn’t know it and moved on.

Study medicine how you want to study medicine.

It sounds strange, but there is very little guidance about what you should know at each stage and this is a blessing in disguise. In block 3, I could keep on top of everything and knew what was going on. This meant when it came to the anatomy sessions, I was trying to learn more detail than was actually taught. However, block 4 came and I struggled to even keep up with one lecture and I was constantly lost on Fridays. This is where being an “adult learner” comes into practise. There is no rule to say you have to do the workbooks (though its advised you do complete them because there is examinable material in there that isn’t in the lectures – Warwick 1st years, you have been warned) , so towards the end of block 4, I took my own anatomy notes in and studies the specimens using them, and that worked so much more better for me. You don’t have to know everything as it comes, there is no official exam before the summative exams at the end of the year. As long as you know the material by then, youll be fine.

Put down the textbooks and get outside..

This was a lesson I had learnt too late and was perhaps more important than anything I had learnt this year. I saw studying as everything my life contained and that there was nothing outside of it. This was the wrong approach and landed me in a crumpled heap when Block 4 hit as I was struggling so then everything in my life became a struggle. It is so important to allow yourself time completely off and (this is vital) to NOT FEEL GUILTY. This ties into lesson 4. Yes, you may spend two hours learning one more fact but sometimes, that two hours is better spent going to the pub with your best friends, or just going running/climbing/ Netflix binging. I am going to make sure next year I have something outside the degree to keep me going, and I would urge any future/ current medical student to do the same thing!

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