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Students know best: how to ace medical school

26 August 2021

We asked medical students to offer up their top tips about how to survive medical school. Get in touch on Instagram via @mps_medical to share your essential advice.


Mokotjo Sematlane, a second-year medical student from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa discusses the importance work-life balance.

It is no secret that medical school is extremely demanding. At times it may get to the point where going the extra mile is the absolute bare minimum and we all have to ensure that we do what is necessary to get ourselves through this journey of medical school. 

As medical students, at times we may fall into the trap of overworking and pushing ourselves beyond the healthy thresholds that we should always be aiming to expand anyway. However, to always be in a position to perform to the best of your ability, there needs to be a well-structured balance between working and resting.  

With this comes the understanding that your medical degree does not define you. Though our degree is so demanding, we first need to know ourselves intimately so that we do not lose ourselves in pursuit of it. Moreover, this will then give us direction and a place of solace and comfort to return to, should the need ever arise.  

Staying true to who you are and knowing what makes you happy, what brings you peace, and the things and people that are good for you, is the best self-care mechanism you can as a medical student, as any anyone for that matter. 

Eleni Hajimarkos, a second-year medical student from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, shares ideas for creating good study habits. 

The fact that medical school is difficult is hardly ground-breaking revelation! We all know that the workload can be overwhelming, and for these reasons it’s imperative to create good study habits.  

After much trial and error, I stumbled across the Pomodoro Technique where you study in short intervals with short breaks in between. I found this to be effective in allowing me to have “time off” as well as finishing work ahead of a test or exam.  

Another good study routine is to create a well-planned schedule. I find it beneficial to plan the week ahead on a Sunday evening, this ensures I do not fall behind with my work. This also avoids cramming before an exam and cutting corners with work, so by the time exam season arrives – if you have followed your schedule – you will be revising, instead of learning work for the first time! 

Got some useful tips that have helped you throughout your studies? Get in touch on Instagram via @mps_medical to share your essential advice with fellow students.