01 Feb Welcome to Year 1!
The idea that a message has the power to make your tummy turn dates back as far as the OG “hey wuu2” of MSN messenger, but truly, even that does not compare to the endorphin rush that the “Congratulations and welcome to medicine” email gives! I know that many of you have recently experienced this exhilarating rush of happiness, excitement, perhaps a little apprehension, for what the next four years will hold. It is so exciting to welcome you into our little Griffith medicine family!
Starting medicine is full of change. This degree is unlike anything you’ve done before and although there is a lot to learn and get used to, it will be the most exciting four years of your life. Over the next few weeks you will slowly become aware of how the medical program operates, the plethora of textbooks available to you, the concept of an “LO” and where to go for a good coffee. Although overwhelming at times, everything will slowly start to make sense. Alongside all the bits and pieces of information you will receive, here are some practical things I have learnt along the way and things I wish someone had told me when I started med.
- Year 1 is all about creating good habits and learning enough to have a good baseline for year 2, 3 and 4.
No, you will not feel like a doctor by the end of the year. Yes, some things you learn will feel irrelevant. No, you don’t need to memorise everything. However, the first semester is a great year to work out the study techniques that work for you before the year gets away from you.
Alongside study habits, learn to manage your time well. Juggling medicine and life can be tricky. It helps to be prepared so the small things like food, laundry and chores don’t completely slip off the radar. Meal planning is super helpful, as is learning to effectively use the School of Medicine calendar alongside your regular planning devices. Create good habits early and you will find that as the years get busier, your habits will persist.
- Sift through resources and focus on studying smart not hard!
You will be bombarded with soooooooo many dropboxes filled with textbooks, past papers, supernotes and everything else you may ever possibly need. As you start completing anatomy prac notes and LOs, set some time aside to look through the resources and see which ones are most effective for you. Save and bookmark these resources, they will become a constant point for quick reference.
Don’t spend hours reading whole chapters to do LO’s. Instead focus on basic physiology, clinically relevant information and learning the content delivered in lectures by core staff. I found Uptodate, eTG and Kumar and Clark’s Clinical Medicine to be some of my favourite resources.
- Get to know your cohort and people in the cohort above you
Trying to tackle the ins and outs of the medical program by yourself is lonely, inefficient and really difficult. My favourite part about year 1 and 2 was definitely the relationships I built along the way. From my group of friends to my PBL groups and clinical skills groups, I am grateful to know people who are supportive and great to have a laugh with.
Students in older years are always happy to help with questions or concerns. Get to know your anatomy tutors and ask them all your questions! Along with this, GUMS runs a mentoring program that buddies up year 1’s with year 2’s, PBL sessions for peer to peer group learning and is always contactable on Facebook.
- Try and maintain perspective
Medical school is an opportunity to learn things you are interested in, read broadly and spend time learning basic concepts well. But keep in mind that the things you are learning now are not the be all and end all of your medical career. Just because you don’t understand something now, doesn’t mean you never will. Remember that year 1 is the very first year of your medical career and you will be growing in new skills every day. Maybe the second, third and fourth years look like they have it all together and know everything, they don’t. The beauty of a medical degree is that as much as it demands of you to learn, it also teaches you to be secure in the fact that you do not have all the answers
- Don’t stress over little things!
I know that this is easier said than done, but it is the best thing I have learnt in the last 3 years. When you accidentally wear clinical dress to PBL or wear shorts to comm skills, it is not the end of the world. If you forget to do an LO or read the timetable wrong and go to the wrong lecture theatre, it is still not the end of the world! Failing one thing, missing one question, having one bad day- these are all normal things and stressing over them shouldn’t drain your mental energy. If you find that you are struggling to manage anxiety or stress, be open and talk to Eve, another member of staff or someone you trust. Medical students are a notoriously stressed out bunch, we’ve all needed support with this before.
- Remember that studying medicine is a part of your life, NOT your life
Get involved in things outside of your medical degree. You will be told this a million times a minute this week, but it is really true advice. Indulge in things that let you forget the Kreb’s Cycle exists, talk to people that don’t stress you out, exercise, do things that are productive outside of medicine. Prioritise these things, don’t just put them on the backburner as an afterthought.
- Ask for help
Maybe this seems obvious, but I still need to be reminded to do this sometimes. Even if you just need someone to chat to or cry with or a friend to talk you through an LO, no request for help is too big or small.
I hope these tips are useful and help you navigate the first few weeks of med. There is a lot to get used to, but I hope you come to love studying and learning at Griffith as much as I have!
Interested in writing for the GUMS blog? Email Yasha at firstname.lastname@example.org