This is me writing to you: I am in 4thyear now and you’re only just beginning your time at medical school. I’m sure you’re excited about starting your first year in the course you have been waiting to start for so long. Taking that gap year was really worth it after all, I know you weren’t that happy about making such a sacrifice but look at you now. So in this letter I wanted to tell you a few things that might help you get through this year a lot better than I did before. I know you must feel like you’ve got this and nothing can derail you in this year but I’d like this letter to prepare you for what is to come and get you ready for things you may not have expected. This is not to lecture you on how to do you this year but I’m trying to help you navigate your way better through this year. After all I am a lot older and wiser now so take it from an older version of yourself , you’ll thank me later.
Keep your confidence.This first year will challenge you in so many ways , remember yourself and your confidence in all these situations. You will be put on the spot and your knowledge will be tested constantly, in 6thform you were used to always knowing the right answer but it’s very different here. The first time your answer gets shut down , don’t recoil in yourself or beat yourself up too much. I let fear get the best of me after this happened and I let my voice get small and allowed myself to think it was okay to be a wall flower and keep my knowledge to my self even when I would’ve been right. I just want to remind you that your confidence is key , it doesn’t matter if you get things wrong , you’re learning and you’re not expected to know it all. So be confident in your ability and remember you don’t have to reduce voice to protect yourself from making mistakes. Mistakes are there to be made , you’re not a doctor yet all that knowledge accumulates and when you get to my year you’ll see how it all comes full circle.
Prioritise your workload: Studying for medicine will be different from studying for your A-levels. I know that for your A-levels you had to know every little detail and it was a lot easier to do this. There is more content to be learned in your first year of medical school and it can all get quite overwhelming. It’s all new and some of it may take you longer to get your head around. A quick heads up : Don’t let Biochemistry be your undoing , you’ll soon realise that you don’t need to know every pathway or every reaction because you’re not studying a biochemistry degree. Don’t let your work overwhelm you , there’s so much to learn but what you’ll realise is although the work load is greater it’s not all that difficult to grasp. Pace yourself and remember to study smart so you don’t burn out .
Don’t compare yourself to others : Medical school can be a very competitive place to be in. When you first start you realise that everyone is in medical school because you’re all of similar intellect. Unfortunately, you realise that you’ve been out of education for a year and you think that you’ll be behind. Yes, it’s intimidating to begin with but you should realise that you’re not left in the dust. You are all learning the same new information , it’s a new experience for you all and that should put you at ease. What I need you to remember though is that comparing yourself to others won’t help your cause. I know it’s difficult not to , when everyone is sharing their knowledge , sharing what they’ve already managed to do just in their 1stfew months its hard to ignore. But the take home message here is that you need to focus on you, as it’s only you who will see yourself through to finish this degree.
You won’t always have it together : I know you’ve always been used to having everything under control. When it comes to education you’ve got this and nothing phases you. You’ve always been so organised and you’ve felt that you’ll be able to keep this going especially for this first year. So when your work load starts to increase and the time you have isn’t matching this , that plan you had starts to come apart. This has never really happened before because you’ve always been organised and whatever plan you make to get things done follows through. So I’m here to tell you that it’s okay not to have it all together , you’ll get bogged down trying to bring your plan back to order and all you’ll do is stress yourself out. The best advice I can say is : regroup and adapt, this will serve you well as the years carry on so let’s start this early.
Take care of yourself :Lastly, everything doesn’t revolve around your degree. I know it means so much to you right now that you’ve made it here and you feel that you have to do everything to keep your place here. I get that, you want to do everything you can to make sure you’re successful in your 1styear. However, that doesn’t mean that nothing else matters, taking time out to do other things will help you maintain a balance in yourself and you won’t burn out. I think that letting go a bit sometimes won’t be all that bad, so maybe take up that society that you think you won’t have time for. And don’t put off meeting up with friends because they will be your best form of support moving forward. Keeping a balance is key so remember to take care of you.
That’s all from me,I hope you take on some of the advice I’ve written up for you. I’m pretty sure you’ll make it through your 1styear so stop being annoying and worrying so much about your exams, I’m in 4thyear now so you’ve done pretty well so far. There’s still things I’m working on even now but I’m getting there and so will you. Enjoy this year and remember to make the most of it.
Written By Michelle Chirimuuta