Typical Day In The Life of a First Year Medical Student

Last updated: 7/10/2020

It goes without saying that the typical day in the life of a first year medical student is going to vary between students of different universities and even more so, between students with different personalities and priorities. However, in this article, we aim to give you as accurate an idea of what you can expect on a typical day of medical school, as possible. 

A woman holding a hand up to chin with arms folded

In light of COVID-19, many medical schools have made lectures and Problem Based Learning (PBL) sessions - if you have them - online for first and second year students. Because of this, you can expect to have much more control over your timetable than students of previous years as you watch lectures and other mandatory teaching sessions in your own time. 

For the sake of guidance, pre-clinical students are used to 20-25 hours of contact time per week covering lectures, labs, PBL sessions, etc., and are expected to spend 10 hours outside that on independent study time (although you’ll likely spend more than this until you learn how to effectively study what you are learning). 

Outside of academia, you will most definitely have time to spend on clubs and societies, workout at a gym or otherwise, hang out with your friends and maintain a social life. 

The following outline reflects a typical day in a COVID-free world in hopes of the current situation returning to some degree of normalcy for future reference.

Typical day of a medical student, consisting of morning classes/labs, lunch, afternoon classes/labs, society evenings/gym/library session, dinner and free time.

Social events tend to dwindle down leading up to exam periods and you can expect to spend more time in the library. Likewise, if you decide to take time off and hang out with friends instead of going to the gym or participate in extracurricular activities, that’s completely up to you. Every day is different and how you choose to spend your time is at your discretion. 

One thing you’ll find once you move out of your childhood home and into a dorm at university is that you will have much more independence than ever before and while it might be tempting to spend all day in bed after a night out, it’s not sustainable in the long run and being a medical student makes it that much harder to catch up if you fall behind.

A piece of paper showing a grade of “A” drawn on it.

However, if you manage your time wisely and keep to a schedule, there is every chance you’ll make the most of your first year and enjoy yourself amidst the stress of a demanding workload.

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