GUMS | So now you are in Med School…
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So now you are in Med School…

04 Feb So now you are in Med School…

30 Second Dance Party
Murmur October 2018 - Official GUMS student magazine

I still remember the feeling I had when I opened the email that confirmed my place in the Medicine program at Griffith. I had a tear in my eye and couldn’t wait to tell my whole family that my dream had become a reality! I’m sure many of you reading this felt some similar rush of euphoria when you received your email.

Fast forward a few months later and it’s all happening for real. You have had orientation week, met lots of new people and now you are starting to get into the rhythm of how the program works. At least that’s how it’s supposed to go, it certainly wasn’t like that for me and a lot of my friends in 3rd year.

Med school is a whole other world, completely different to anything we have encountered before. We are starting a life… A LIFE of learning! That’s daunting for me at the best of times and it most certainly was in my first few weeks. I remember sitting in my second PBL thinking, “how am I possibly going to know all this stuff and keep up with all this work.” A rather common thought pattern for most first years right now I would assume. This is completely normal, and it would be a little extraordinary if you were completely comfortable within 2 weeks of arguably the biggest change of your life.

Here are a few tips to make the year easier.

  1. Pace yourself
  • I’m not going to say don’t do LO’s, I’m going to say you don’t have to do every LO every time. It’s a long year and it’s about picking your battles. If you have extra time one weekend, sure do some extra reading and write some notes but if you don’t feel like it and you are tired, that’s a sign you need to have a break. Take some time for yourself, maybe just a walk, a swim in the ocean or a Netflix binge. Take some pressure off yourself and relax. It’s easier said than done, but practice makes perfect!
  1. Get in good habits early
  • This one refers to study and sleep mainly. You really want to avoid cramming this year. Start studying at least 3 weeks out from the exam, revising big concepts out loud with your friends to really check your knowledge.
  • Sleep is so crucial, even more crucial than LOs!! Aim to get at least 8 hours sleep a night because if you aren’t looking after your brain, how can you expect to keep any knowledge in it while you are super tired and on your 3rd coffee at uni for the day…. You can’t!
  1. Make loads of mistakes!
  • You will understand this more when you start Comm Skills, but Med school is the perfect time to make mistakes, it’s a safe environment where falling flat on your face is like falling on a soft pillow! You can’t learn without making mistakes, so try step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to be prepared to maybe make a mistake!
  1. Try to bring your mind back to the bigger picture.
  • It’s a very long road and there is light at the end of the tunnel! There are actually so many tunnels in the future it’s a bit crazy. Remember that all those consultants who you think know so much stuff only know that stuff about one area, eg. Obstetricians birth babies and not much else as they haven’t taken 5 years of specialised training to be able to respond to everything and anything obstetric. You have only just started your life of training and there is too much for one person to know.
  1. Finally, don’t sweat the small stuff
  • Cut yourself a little bit of slack and don’t learn everything about the kidney for the kidney LO. Sure, you might be asked to describe the 4 different types of kidney cancer, but this is unlikely to be relevant unless you are a kidney specialist who specialises in kidney cancer. Focus on the main things that would be relevant to a patient who asked, “What is my kidney and what does it do?”. These are questions doctors get asked a lot, and patients usually get long winded, jargon filled answers that leaves patients wondering if doctors are even human beings.

Ask yourself this question next time you are thinking about how deep to learn a topic. What would a patient who had this disease want to know about it and what would be useful for them to know.

  • Cancer
    • Oncogenes – Make the cancer cells grow faster
    • Tumour suppressors – Suppress the growth of the tumour.

You might be thinking, “Thaddeus that’s a pretty shallow depth of knowledge about cancer”. I would agree with you and tell you to have a look at the exams because that’s the level of answer they usually want. Obviously not always, but it’s a good general rule!


That’s about it for now, but please don’t hesitate to contact me on Facebook or by email to discuss anything med school related!

Thaddeus McFarlane
GUMS Vice President


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30 Second Dance Party
Murmur October 2018 - Official GUMS student magazine