PREPARING FOR LIFE AT MEDICAL SCHOOL: CLINICAL YEARS ADVICE

As you make the monumental transition from classroom years to clinical years, we wanted to make sure you are prepared, by equipping you with all the knowledge needed to thrive within this next stage of your studies. You’re at a time where you will experience a drastic change in learning style and will practically be working a full time job only for you to be paid in terms of experience. You will be challenged with more responsibility and will have the opportunity to treat real patients, where many of the cases you witness very rarely go by the book. The two main purposes of clinical training are to learn how to actually take care of patients by putting into practise all you’ve been taught thus far and to help you develop your professional identity as a doctor. So get ready for this great learning curve to say the least as you’re one step closer to becoming a doctor.  Here is a list of all our tips and advice:


Be Proactive

  • If there are specific things you want to achieve, make your interests known, be vocal. This is your opportunity to experience multiple specialities so make the most of it. Be confident and do not be afraid to ask questions. Take the opportunities presented to you and use them as a chance to practise necessary skills.

Interact with patients

  • It is incredibly important for you to build rapport with your patients, patient interaction is a large component of medicine and it is better you develop this skill sooner rather than later. Spending extra time with your patients to learn something new or valuable about them is essential in understanding how to interact with different types of personalities and more about the patients condition. Each patient interaction provides you with the ability to learn something new, if you pay attention and make the most of any free time you may have.

Interact with healthcare professionals & show respect

  • Building good relationships with your seniors is crucial, Foundation Year 1 doctors tend to be really helpful as they are fresh out of medical school and have a good idea of what standard you should be at and are a great source of tips and advice. Be sure to ask for regular feedback, your strengths, areas you need to improve and suggestions on how can improve yourself. Building rapport with senior doctors can also provide you with many opportunities in research or placements and you additionally ask for letters of recommendation/ references.

Strike a good balance between passing exams and “learning to be a doctor”, as well as book work and ward work.

  • Your workload is set to increase so it is extremely important not to neglect your book work. Equally do not neglect your clinical skills, hence why it is important to find the right balance to ensure you excel in each aspect. Keep both the immediacy of your exams and your future job as a doctor when you’re deciding what to learn.

Listen and take notes

  • We strongly suggest that you carry a small notebook and a pen with you to record things that interest you. Make notes on things you’ve seen in clinical situations, preferably some time during the same week; medical facts stick in your mind easier when you can link them to a real human being that you’ve seen. Write down your experiences, any questions you may have or extra knowledge regarding your learning outcomes. By recording a variety of things, you can look back in the future and acknowledge and appreciate your professional and personal growth.

Know your goals

  • It is highly beneficial to know what you’re working towards, find out exactly what you need to have done/ achieved by the end of the placement. Knowing what is expected and how you will be assessed is very important and means that there are no distasteful surprises further down the line. Moreover, ensure you have determined what you personally want to gain from the placement, e.g: becoming better at taking histories or becoming more confident at a skill for ex