Friday, 1 June 2012

80 + Things you wish you knew before you started medical school

80 + Things you wish you knew before you started medical school

So I've been looking at this site , which is great but very american and not always applicable to the english medical school system, so I've decided to slowly completely plagiarise/alter/ add my own bits to this (I'll keep updating this post as I think of things. I think I'm a bit more optimistic than the original poster perhaps tho, so some have had a positive slant added to them!)

  1. People told you it would be hard, but at times you will feel they didn't emphasize this enough. At other times you will think that they (and me now!) are drama queens.
  2. You’ll study more than you ever have in your life.
  3. Only half of your class will be in the top 50%. You have a 50% chance of being in the top half of your class. Get used to it now.
  4. You don’t need to know anatomy before school starts. Or pathology. Or physiology.
  5. That Chemistry A level you had to take because it was "the most relevant a level for studying medicine"? Not relevant. At all.
  6. Third year rotations will suck the life out you. Fifth year ones might take your soul (so I hear, I'll let you know next year).
  7. Med-cest! Your year group will couple up, break up, and then re couple up differently. Gossip galore. Those with non medic partners are in a sad minority.
  8. You may discover early on that medicine isn’t for you.
  9. You will need to know how to make tea to order for GP rotations. That job in a cafe? Looking more useful now.
  10. You will become OCD about handwashing, if not you will be told off on many occasions by the nursing staff (rightfully).
  11. Despite all the early lectures you have about patients consent being clearly asked with regards to medical students sitting in on clinics, you will be in countless situations where you are pretty sure the consultant hasn't asked and you don't think the patient is comfortable with you being there
  12. You won’t be a medical student on the surgery rotation. You’ll be the retractor bitch.
  13. You often won't be a medical student on ANY rotation, you will be he/she who pulls the curtain.
  14. You will get really good at getting drug rep/ company free pens whenever you can but doctors are even better at "borrowing" them off you.
  15. If you added up all the time you waste waiting around for clinics/ lectures/ ward rounds you could easily shorten the actual medical degree by a year.
  16. You will work with at least one smart arse senior that you want to argue with about the way they treat you and other medical students, but you will have to sit down and shut up.
  17. You will see staffs expressions of annoyance when you turn up and say you are a medical student.
  18. You’ll ask a stranger about the quality of their stools.
  19. You’ll ask post-op patients if they’ve farted within the last 24 hours.
  20. At some point during your stay, a stranger’s bodily fluids will most likely come into contact with your exposed skin.
  21. Somebody in your class will flunk out of medical school. Probably more than one.
  22. Several people in your year will date doctors during the course.
  23. After the first two years are over, your summer breaks scarcely exist. Enjoy them as much as you can.
  24. You’ll be sleep deprived.
  25. There will be times on certain rotations where you won’t be allowed to eat.
  26. The phrase "Reflective writing" will induce a pavlovs dog style response resulting in instant rage.
  27. There will be times throughout the course when you hate medicine and wonder why you are doing this.
  28. You’ll party a lot during the first two years, but that will reduce drastically once you start rotations....
  29. .... You will quickly learn than hangovers and ward rounds to not mix well at all.
  30. You’ll probably change your specialty of choice at least 4 times.
  31. You’ll spend a good deal of your time playing social worker.
  32. Nurses will treat you badly, simply because you are a medical student.
  33. Sometimes on ward rounds/ clinics you will start to seriously debate whether you have achieved the power of invisibility.
  34. You will develop a thick skin. If you fail to do this, you’ll cry often.
  35. Public humiliation is very commonplace in medical training.
  36. Surgeons are arseholes. Take my word for it now.
  37. It’s always the medical student’s fault.
  38. At least 5% of those in your year would happily push you over and walk on you on their way to try and get to the top.
  39. The woman at Lidl will give you a lecture about the medical risks of drinking too many energy drinks.
  40. Your house might go uncleaned for two weeks during an intensive exam block.
  41. As a medical student on rotations, you don’t matter. In fact, you get in the way and impede productivity.
  42. You’ll be competing against the best of the best, the cream of the crop. This isn’t school where half of your classmates are idiots. Everybody in medical school is smart.
  43. Don’t think that you own the world because you just got accepted into medical school. That kind of attitude will humble you faster than anything else.
  44. If you’re in it for the money, there are much better, more efficient ways to make a living. Medicine is not one of them.
  45. Anatomy sucks. All of the bone names sound the same.
  46. The competition doesn’t end after getting accepted to medical school. You’ll have to compete for decile ranking, awards, and f1 positions. When you specialise you will have to compete for that too.
  47. Close friends will claim they have done next to no work all year, you will be reasurred until you see their pages and pages of notes 1 week before exams start.
  48. Your fourth year in medical school will be like a vacation compared to the first three years. It’s a good thing too, because you’ll need one. (This depends on medical school however....)
  49. Somebody in your class will be known as the “highlighter whore.” Most often a female, she’ll carry around a backpack full of every highlighter color known to man. She’ll actually use them, too.
  50. Rumours surrounding members of your class will spread faster than they did in school.
  51. Rumours about the course will spread faster still - "haven't you heard the medical school HAS to fail 20% because the year is too big?!"
  52. You’ll meet a lot of cool people, many new friends, and maybe your husband or wife.
  53. No matter how bad your medical school experience was at times, you’ll still be able to think about the good times.
  54. Most questions at the end of lectures come from the post-grad students.
  55. There will be at least one person in your year who scarcely has the social skills to say his own name, no one knows how they got through the interview process.
  56. At the beginning of first year, everyone will talk about how cool it’s going to be to help patients. At the end of third year, everybody will talk about how cool it’s going to be to make a lot of money.
  57. By fourth year you are virtually having weekly conversations about how you will spend your first pay check.
  58. The attractiveness of being a GP with its good pay and short hours is positively correlated to your year at medical school
  59. Telling local boys/girls at the bar that you’re a medical student doesn’t mean shit. They’ve been hearing that for years. Be more unique.
  60. The money isn’t really that good in medicine. Not if you look at it in terms of hours worked.
  61. Don’t wear your hospital id badge into a petrol station, or any other business that has nothing to do with you wearing a white coat. You look like an ass, and people do make fun of you.
  62. Dont steal patients for presentations that you know other students are going to use and actually clerked! You will quickly be known as one of that 5% that would push their own gran in front of a bus if they thought it would help their career somehow.
  63. Stick to the back of the ward round parade unless offered to come forward and get a better view of the patient, we've not earnt a right to be at the front yet.
  64. If you piss off your F1, he or she can make your life hell.
  65. Make the most of all the opportunity universities have - don't forget you are at university rather than just medical school, don't be afraid to step out of that medical school bubble occasionally.
  66. Your family members will ask you for medical advice, even after your first week of first year. By your third year onwards they start to worry if you don't know the answer.
  67. Many of your friends will go onto great jobs and fantastic lifestyles. You’ll still be at university eating (asda smart price) pot noodles.
  68. It’s amazing how fast time flies on your days off. It’s equally amazing at how slow the days are on a rotation you hate.
  69. No matter what specialty you want to do, somebody on an unrelated rotation will hold it against you. You will probably starting lying to make your future career match your current rotation...
  70. Sitting around in a group and talking about ethical issues involving patients is not fun. But you will have to do it a lot.
  71. You will probably do more role play than the students studying drama do, and you will become adept at playing the role of a sick patient for ocse practise.
  72. Find new ways to study. The methods you used in college may or may not work. If something doesn’t work, adapt.
  73. Hospitals smell bad.
  74. Occasionally a doctor or nurse will offer you a cup of tea or coffee, that person will become your new god.
  75. Subjective evaluations are just that – subjective. They aren’t your end all, be all so don’t dwell on a poor evaluation. The person giving it was probably an asshole, anyway.
  76. Some physicians will tell you it’s better than it really is. Take what you hear (both positive and negative) with a grain of salt.
  77. 90% of surgeons are assholes, and 63% of statistics are made up. The former falls in the lucky 37%.
  78. During the summer before medical school starts, do not attempt to study or read anything remotely related to medicine. Take this time to travel and do things for you.
  79. Vaginal deliveries are messy. So are c-sections. It’s just an all-around blood fest if you like that sort of thing.
  80. Despite what the faculty tell you, you don’t need all of the fancy equipment that they suggest for you to buy. All you need is a stethoscope. The other equipment they say you “need” is standard in all clinic and hospital exam rooms. If it’s not standard, your training hospital and clinics suck.
  81. Don't buy textbooks before you start medical school, and don't buy everything on the reading list then, most librarys are perfectly adequate for textbooks you may only ever use a couple of times. Wait till you know what the core books you use are.
  82. There will be several people in your year who will seem to be doing some form of "gotta catch 'em all" for committee positions and extra curricular activities.
  83. There will be at least one person in your year who seems to be doing the same for STI's ...
  84. By fourth year suddenly everyone will be talking about publications they have got or presentations they are giving at national conferences. If you are not one of these people you simply won't understand how everyone has managed this.
  85. Don't let your decile ranking within the medical school affect your self worth!
  86. Avoid surgery like the plague.
  87. You may have gone into medicine "to help people" but sometimes the only way to do that is to carry out procedures which cause them pain and make you feel like an utter b**t**d, you'd better be prepared for that too.
  88. Reflection will no longer be just the thing you see in the mirror but a word that fills you with dread.
  89. Read this, and the linked american version, now, throughout medical school, and then after you’re done. Then come back and say how right all this is. (I read the american version early in medical school, and now again now as a fourth year, got to say, its definitely looking pretty right!).


  1. LOL.... I'm still laughing! I too am a medical student, I think from last 6 months (only!). And I've personally experienced #2 (and #73 on visit to doctors!) Recently I had my first internal examination and honestly speaking I didn't slept at night during that time. Very interesting, useful and funny post. I don't yet whether surgeons are arsehole or not but I know I soon discover that! :)
    Following you now, in the hope to get more useful, interesting and funny posts!

  2. Love this (even though I'm not a med student!)

  3. Love this! #74 A nurse once brought me a cup of tea (without even asking) and I was so amazed by it- no one ever brings the student a cup of tea! It actually made my day :)

  4. I want to become a med student and I laughed sooo much at this post! :)

  5. Thanks guys glad you enjoyed :)

    Sneha: The surgeons being arseholes is a generalisation, but i'd say it often is true..

    Anon: A consultant once led a teaching session from in the hospital restaurant and bought ALL of us coffee/tea (whatever we wanted) that guy is still my favorite consultant! (he was amazing with patients too!)

  6. #84 is really true.

  7. really enjoyed it!!!u must be busy?! u haven't posted for awhile!!!

  8. ^ Thanks :). Yup have been pretty busy, but as things are only going to get busier in the coming months definitely time I get back to catching up with blogs! So I'm on it now, first new blog up now (tho probably of little interest as you are not a medical applicant I'm afraid). Will try and get more regular again :)

  9. All this makes me want to get into a medical school even more badly :(

  10. Haha, so true. I really enjoyed reading it. I'm working on my pediatric nursing resume at the moment and this post made my day!