Medicine is a highly specialised and exclusive field of study and it is hard to know, from an outside person’s perspective, what it’s really like to be in a medical school. You may have heard things about medical schools, including the lack of social life, heavy workload and cult-like culture. While some portrayals of medical schools are accurate, there are also many misconceptions.
In this article, we hope to debunk the stereotypes associated with medical students and give you a better idea of the kind of environment you can expect when you start in the upcoming year.
Entry to medicine is highly competitive, and as a result, it is true that most medical students, who survived through the gruelling admissions process, tend to be competitive by nature. . However, that competitive drive tends to dwindle down once you start, and eventually, you will realise the easiest way to get through the next five to six years will be by making a good group of friends you can rely on to share resources, learn from, and work with.
That being said, there might be the odd student or two you can expect will still be extremely competitive but that can be expected of any course and if anything, should act to remind you that competing with your peers is not something we’d recommend. You will still need to work hard for yourself but this does not mean you have to compete fiercely with other students at the cost of your health and camaraderie.
Relative to other courses, medical students do have more contact hours and you will probably have to spend even more time outside that to fully grasp the teachings of the course. Put together, this can appear as if you will spend an overwhelmingly substantial amount of time on your degree leaving no time for anything else.
On the contrary, plenty of medical students are involved in societies and sports outside of medicine and can be just as contributive to events, socials and training. While it might look like you don’t have the time to spare, you’ll come to find that sometimes, taking a break to do something else makes you twice as productive at completing tasks later. In fact, medical students are notorious for having very good nights out and often have their own society which holds several social events throughout the year to look forward to.
What’s important to understand is that grades are treated differently in medical school and at the end of the day, accounts for less than 50% of your application for Foundation Programmes upon graduation. Ultimately, getting an B vs a C doesn’t make a huge difference when it comes to being successful at getting a job.
While this might look like an excuse to take your education for granted, it’s important to keep in mind what you signed up for in the first place and the kind of doctor you intend on becoming. Barely passing might get you through medical school but it will directly impact the patients that you treat and their standard of care.
While this doesn’t mean that medics don’t have other friends, it’s true that you’ll often see medical students surrounded by other medical students. Due to the amount of time medical students spend together, friendships are bound to start and there’s a good chance you’ll end up in the same position. What may seem like a lack of diversity to begin with, might actually save you some stress in the long run as studying becomes easier and the workload, more manageable. It can also help keep you sane because fellow medical students can relate to you and fully understand what you are going through.
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