Getting into medical school is not easy and having done so, it is highly probable that you found secondary education relatively straightforward. At A level/IB, the syllabus is clear and there are a set number of resources and past papers for you to practice. Furthermore, memorising mark schemes can often make up for lack of understanding in certain topics.
However, this will change once you start university and while is true for any degree, is particularly true for a course as demanding as medicine. With an infinite amount of available resources at variable levels of depth, it can be daunting and difficult to differentiate between what’s expected and what’s taking it too far. For this reason, we’ve compiled a few helpful resources you will be grateful to have on your journey as a medical student.
As obvious as it might seem, it’s easy to get carried away and read far beyond the level of depth covered in your teaching sessions. At least for the first couple of years, your exams will be largely based on the notes, flashcards or slides you will have collected throughout the year. Keep it simple; pay attention as the year goes and you should be fine.
This goes without saying but while you might have gotten away relying on no one but yourself until now, attempting this at medical school won’t just be difficult; it can get very lonely. Your mental health is much more important than a grade and working with a group of friends can make the long nights in the library feel much more bearable. Not to mention, finding a group of people you trust puts you in the position to share notes, hold study sessions, discuss complex concepts and ultimately, will make you a better student. There’s also the added benefit here of developing friendships and rapport with your future colleagues.
The peers in the years above can give you advice on what to expect, which lectures are more important than others, and offer to help with preparing for case presentations or OSCEs. If you ask nicely, they might even share their notes and question banks passed down over the years by past medical students.
BMJ Best Practice is an online bank of information that offers guidance on diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, aetiology and prevention of diseases covering over 30 specialities. It’s simple, clinically focused, up-to-date and is an extremely reliable source. While it’s a resource you need to pay for, there’s a good chance you can access the tool for free using your institution login details or through a university computer.
Learning anatomy is infinitely easier when you can visualise the musculature, corresponding blood supply and other structures which is why dissections and prosections are offered at most UK medical schools. However, online resources are also available for when you’re out of the anatomy building; AnatomyTV is one of them.
Anatomy TV provides virtual prosections along with brief outlines of corresponding function, musculature, blood supply and more. It’s a very useful atlas that provides a solid foundation for your anatomical knowledge.
Again, it’s something you need to pay for but there’s a good chance you can access the tool for free if your institution has a subscription to it. Alternatively, your university might have access to another similar resource that will probably give you the same depth of information.
Geeky Medics is a collaborative blog for medical students with posts covering anatomy, medicine, surgery and more. Started by Lewis Potter 9 years ago as a medical student himself, it has since grown and is now contributed to by a huge community of students and qualified health professionals alike. The best part about Geeky Medics are their OSCE guides which cover the steps of almost every physical examination, including the physical signs to look for and what seeing them might mean.
GeekyMedics also has an app as well as an online bank with over 5000 MCQs and flashcards you can access for free.
There are several Youtube channels which offer consolidated and graphic explanations of complex concepts including Armando Hasudungan, Osmosis, and Khan Academy Medicine. These are usually not very long (often around 15 minutes long), very easy to understand and in the long run, will save you time from having to look up the same concepts in textbooks telling you the same thing but in about 10 long pages.
Medicine is a very long and arduous journey so if you ever feel like you need some motivation along the way, UK based student vloggers such as Ali Abdaal, ThatMedic and KharmaMedic upload videos on their lives as medical students and offer further advice on getting through medical school.
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