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Life as a medical student - 10 things you should know

18 January 2024

By Luv Agarwal, a fourth year medical student at Spartan Health Sciences University, St Lucia.

Becoming a medical student is a life-altering journey filled with challenges, triumphs, and profound personal growth. It's a path pursued by individuals with a passion for healing and a dedication to lifelong learning. Whether you're considering medical school or you're already knee-deep in textbooks and clinical rotations, here are ten essential things you should know about life as a medical student:


1. The academic rigor is intense

Prepare to immerse yourself in a sea of textbooks, lectures, and exams. Medical school is academically demanding, and you'll need to develop effective study habits to keep up. But remember, your fellow students are also facing this challenge, so lean on your peers for support.


2. Time management is critical

Balancing coursework, clinical rotations, and self-care is a constant juggling act. Effective time management is essential. Create a schedule that allocates time for studying, attending lectures, and most importantly, taking care of yourself.


3. It's a marathon, not a sprint

Medical school is a long journey, often taking four years of medical education, followed by residency and possibly fellowships. Pace yourself, and remember that it's okay to take breaks and have a life outside of medicine.


4. The patient-doctor relationship is paramount

Beyond the textbooks, medical school emphasizes the importance of compassionate care. Building a strong patient-doctor relationship is essential for delivering quality healthcare. Your patients are not just cases; they are individuals with unique needs and stories.


5. Clinical experience is eye-opening

Your clinical rotations are where theory meets reality. These experiences provide a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a healthcare provider and are a chance to apply what you've learned in the classroom to actual patient care.


6. Collaboration is key

Modern medicine is a collaborative effort, and you'll work with various healthcare professionals. Understanding the roles of nurses, pharmacists, and other team members is crucial for effective patient care.


7. You'll question yourself

At some point, self-doubt is likely to creep in. This is normal. Remember that everyone in your position has felt the same way. Seek support from mentors, professors, and peers when these doubts arise.


8. Self-care is a priority

Your physical and mental well-being should never be neglected. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and quality sleep are all crucial. Don't hesitate to seek help if you're struggling with your mental health.


9. Financial strain is real

Medical school can be expensive, and student loan debt is a reality for many. Investigate scholarship opportunities, financial aid, and consider a budget to manage your finances wisely.


10. You're joining a noble profession

Despite the challenges, being a medical student is a privilege. You're on a path to make a positive impact on countless lives. The opportunity to heal, comfort, and save lives is an incredible and rewarding journey.


In conclusion, life as a medical student is a transformative experience. It's a path filled with intellectual growth, personal challenges, and opportunities to make a real difference in the world. By knowing these ten essential things, you can navigate your journey through medical school with greater awareness and success. Embrace the challenges and celebrate the victories, for the road ahead is one that leads to a truly noble profession.