Let me start by giving you guys a massive congratulations for getting into Imperial College School of Medicine! You guys worked so incredibly hard over the past 2 years to get to where you are, through all the uncertainty due to Covid-19 and all the highs (getting the offer!) and lows (let’s be honest, the BMAT wasn’t a bag of laughs). But here you are. The end of one phase of your life and the beginning of another.
Now, naturally with all things new you guys may be feeling confused and have a million questions about how to survive medical school. Here’s where MM comes in! This blog post should hopefully give you guys a bit of a direction with this journey and ease your anxieties, so the transition from school to uni is as smooth as can be.
Let’s start with probably one of the biggest questions swimming around in your head right now: how do I revise? The thing about medicine is, there isn’t the same kind of a ‘curriculum’ as you’d find for AQA or Edexcel at A Level, so often it can be difficult to know how much detail to learn something in. For that, I’d say your lectures have everything you need to know in the perfect depth, since the lecturers who deliver them are the same ones who make your questions for your exams. So don’t miss any!
Now, for actual note taking, there is a multitude of ways to revise and recap the content. You may have heard of Notion notes, Anki flashcard decks, annotating slides on your iPad and there’s the older year notebank. It may be confusing to know which method to use, so it’s definitely worth trying out a few of these and seeing which one works or that you just like. You don’t have to try all of them, just see whichever one you gravitate more towards. The key is just to make sure you’re doing active revision. Revise through testing yourself instead of just reading through notes, and if you make a set of notes based around questions or active recall, it’ll mean you can use them both for revision and also as practise questions.
Finally, let’s talk about study habits. The main thing I want to focus on is consistency. Try your best to do a little bit of work every day, because trust me it’ll save you so much hassle close to exam time or over holidays. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be studying like 15 hours a day and on certain days you just can’t be bothered at all so won’t do anything. That’s absolutely fine, we’re far from perfect and slacking on some days won’t mean you’ll fail. It’s all about taking each day as it comes and trying to discipline yourself a bit to get some work done. During your study time, do make sure to give yourself enough breaks too, or else your back will hate you for it.
Some of you may have heard of Imposter syndrome- feelings of self-doubt and that you don’t deserve what you have despite your accomplishments and the fact you worked really hard to get here. If you can relate to this, then do not worry, you’re not alone! Imposter syndrome is wayyy more common than you think, especially within med students, and it can be an unfortunate product of the admissions process.
What I would like you guys to reflect on is the fact that all of you here are equal. You’re all in the same boat of students that persevered your way through the application journey and that you weren’t chosen out of luck, but based on your skill and ability. Getting comfortable with this fact may take time for some, but it’s true. You’re in the system now and it’s a fresh start, so you don’t have to look back at the applications process ever again!
It’s also worth mentioning that you shouldn’t put a lot of pressure on yourself by expecting uni to be unforgiving if you’re not working all the time or always being on top of lectures or trying to get onto all 400 (or however many there are) societies. I’m not lying when I say you’ll all be perpetually behind on lectures and you’ll all have long days, but that’s the thing- it’ll be all of you, so don’t feel alone! Try to find a group of likeminded friends (you definitely will find others just like you here trust me) and support each other, and you’ll be chillinggg.
The final thing I’d really like to highlight is the importance of habits. These are really small things that a lot of people compromise on, but they can actually make or break your well-being. Try your best to find as much of a balance in your life as you can- it’ll mean you get to experience the best form of uni life where you can enjoy everything. Of course, it’s difficult to stick to the exact same routine day on day since life changes all the time, so don’t worry about adhering to a very strict timetable. Just be real with yourself and know when you can put some more effort in that day, or on the contrary when you need a bit of a day off.
All that matters is you don’t forget about factors of your life that keep you healthy, such as eating and sleeping. As long as you try to work on staying consistent with those, you’ll be good.
Where to go for more help and advice?
Like I said at the beginning, university is a new experience for all of you, and there may be times throughout the year where you need some academic or wellbeing support. Here are some people to get in touch with if oyu need to reach out:
- Older years– There is a really nice culture at Imperial of older years helping out the younger ones. We’re more than happy to answer any of your questions about the course or give tips and advice about uni life in general!
- Your academic tutor– you guys will start to have meetings with your small group’s academic tutor at least once per term; drop them an email if you have any concerns 🙂
- ICSMSU Welfare Chair– Camellia Richards: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Student Counselling Service: email@example.com
- The Advice Centre– for advice on academics, housing and money: firstname.lastname@example.org
To end with, I’d like you guys to know that MM is here for you! From welfare to academics, we’ve got you- and actually starting very soon we’ll be running our famous weekly tutorials. We’ll be bringing in prizewinner tutors from older years to deliver condensed and high yield tutorials on all the important content you need for POM (and later BRS). They will be absolutely perfect for revision and also to clear up any confusion you guys have, so do make sure to come! Keep an eye on your year’s Whatsapp groups and the MM Year 1 Tutorials Facebook page (link to join is https://www.facebook.com/groups/1231298873949325 ) for more details soon.
With that guys, I hope this blog has been of use, even if only a little! You guys will be on a path of self-development over the next 6 years, and with the right mindset and support it will definitely be one of the most enjoyable experiences of your lives. Good luck with your first year!
MM Year 1 Coordinator 2021-22