Saturday, 7 June 2014

30 Things I Learnt as a Fresher in Medical School

Results were announced yesterday and I have passed first year of medical school. It's been a challenging year but so happy to have passed! My first year at Barts and The London have been amazing, so I thought I would blog about 30 things I learnt as a fresher at medical school.

  1. You aren’t the smartest person in the room anymore.

    If you’ve done three A-Levels, then I’ve done four. If you’ve done four, I’ve done a degree. If you’ve done a degree, he’s done a masters. If you’ve done a masters, she’s done a PhD. And so on. UKCAT, IB scores don’t matter. We’re all in. And from this day onwards, only 50% of us will be above average. This idea is hard for a bunch of intelligent people to swallow.
  2. Say yes to everything. Be proud of your new university. It will be your home for four/five/six years.
  3. Get some non-medic fresher friends. The people you live with in halls and everyone on your course may seem amazing now, but come end of year and all you’ve heard is revision schedules, some non-medic friends would be great.
  4. There is a lot of work but it is not as much as you think. You just have to be organised. Do a little every week. Make sure you go to every lecture. If you don’t, make sure you watch the recording. So that when it comes to exam time, you have seen the material at least once before.
  5. Don’t buy any textbooks in first year. Use the library or *cough* online PDFs.
  6. Moan to other medics, but not your non-medic friends. They don’t care and if you do it too much, you’ll lose them. You chose medical school and while it’s cathartic to wine, do it with fellow medics.
  7. Some subjects at medical school suck. Histology is ultimately just becoming familiar with the images. Use YouTube, online websites, Wheater’s or any other resource to master it.
  8. You don’t need any equipment for Barts for first year. However I own a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff.
  9. “This won’t be on the test” or “We use the same pictures for the finals” - Medical schools lie.
  10. You will sleep with/annoy/get drunk with a fellow medic. It happens but be careful you don’t burn too many bridges.
  11. Medicine is like learning a whole new language.
  12. When exams approach, you hibernate from society for a while.
  13. You discover that an hour of study is a very short period of time. You always need more.
  14. You need a whiteboard (or a cheap student version).
  15. I prefer to get a good night sleep and start cramming at 6am. I’m too ‘old’ to be doing all-nighters.
  16. Learn to block *insert distracting website here*
  17. Do talk about grades with fellow medics. Unless you are close friends.
  18. You learn to bullshit. Reflective writing for my GP placement is best written drunk.
  19. Med school isn’t fair. Some tutors are nicer than others. Some placements are better than others. Suck it up.
  20. You become surprisingly at ease at being in a room full of dead, partially dissected cadavers. Remember to be respectful but name your cadaver!
  21. Older years are key for past papers and how to tackle OSCEs. Clinical skills is not very joined up well at Barts.
  22. Caffeine can become a food group
  23. There is always one fresher that you can diagnose as an alcoholic
  24. Don’t get sick. Look after yourself. If you need to see a doctor, GO. It will just get worse.
  25. If you are sick, tell your med school. They accepted you. They want you to finish the course. They will look after you.
  26. You can multi-task, but not everything e.g. washing-up while food is cooking NOT studying and watching TV
  27. You cannot learn everything. It is not possible. Draw a line at when to stop and move on. This is not A-Levels where there is one textbook to learn.
  28. Be keen. Everyone else is. Regardless of what they say.
  29. You are not alone. Everyone is in the same boat. Make some friends, relax and enjoy it. You’re going to be a doctor!


  1. haha. i thought you disappeared. good to hear from you once again. going to barts in 2015. I am a deferred applicant. cant wait! thanks for the list :)

    1. @Anon. Yeah I got so caught up in my first year, I forgot to blog. Now that summer is here, I'll try to get back into it. See you in 2015!

  2. Replies
    1. You're too kind! Glad you're enjoying it though.

  3. deferred applicant for 2015 too! :)

  4. I really like your blog articles. Would you be interested in doing some guest blogging or tweeting? If so please email me for more information