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Tips for Starting University

Congratulations for getting into medical school! Pat on the back for getting this far. It's going to be a long journey from here, but I'll guarantee that you will have the most fun! Here is what I wish I had known when I started medical school:

1. Attend lectures and keep up to date with teaching. It’s really easy to miss lectures, especially when you have three or four back-to-back, but this is your opportunity to ask questions and interact with your lecturers. I know it may be hard to drag yourself out of bed after a night out to your lectures, but this is the best way to get the basics for your knowledge. The lecturers know their content best and may be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to what you need to know for your exams.

2. Ask for help when you need it. At some point, you may struggle with the amount of information or the content. Don’t be afraid to stick up your hand and ask questions during lectures or email your lecturers afterwards. Even if they don't have the time to explain the concepts to you, they will be able to point you in the direction of useful resources which will help with your learning. You can also rely on friends and staff at your medical school.

3. Make a study group. If you struggle with motivating yourself to study, perhaps studying with friends is the way to go. Studying is always easier with friends and study group sessions will force you to think about how much content you know. Explaining concepts to friends can help you understand the material better and consolidate your knowledge.

4. Use a wide variety of resources and experiment with study techniques. Don’t just stick to the resources your medical school hands out. It’s great to broaden your knowledge using a wide variety of resources. Elsevier has a lot of resources for medical students to use such as ClinicalKey Student, Osmosis and Complete Anatomy. When you start medical school, it is also your chance to experiment with how you learn best. I used to hand write my notes in secondary school and started doing the same in medical school before quickly realising that it was taking too long. I, now, write all my notes digitally and this allows me to keep up with the pace of medical school.

5. Don’t make medicine your life. Make sure you take time out from medicine to enjoy your hobbies. When medicine gets overwhelming, these are the things you can fall back on. In secondary school, I used to dance Bharatanatyam (a form of classical Indian dancing) competitively but stopped when I started university as I couldn't keep up with my studies. I, now, make time for dance and attend weekly dance classes and this helps me achieve a better work-life balance.

I hope you enjoy your time at medical school. It's really not as scary as it sounds!

Clarris Paul