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What It’s Really Like to Study Medicine, According to a Current Student

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We asked Serena, a third year student at the University of Central Lancashire, about her life as a medical student.

When I flew to England from JFK two years ago to do a bachelor of medicine and surgery at the University of Central Lancashire, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I’m so glad I did because applying to med school was the best thing I ever did!

I want to help people, and every day, I’m surrounded by students and teachers who are in love with what they do, and their passion makes me love what I do too. I’ve met some truly incredible people on this course, people I am certain I will remain lifelong friends with after uni. They’re ambitious, caring individuals, and they make my time here 100% worth it.

Despite the heavy workload, it’s important to take some downtime and do things unrelated to medicine once in a while. I regularly go for a walk in the park, sit in a coffee shop, take a weekend break and do things I enjoy like playing field hockey, rehearse with the school’s dance teams or travel around Europe during the holidays. Since I moved to the UK, I have had the chance to visit really beautiful places like Spain, Croatia, Budapest, Netherlands and Germany, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I truly believe that everyone should explore the world – see different cultures and communities and understand how others live. Especially if you’re studying medicine away from home, like I am.

Of course, med school is hard, but a little organisation goes a long way! Flashcards are my go-to revision technique, but there are lots of other ways like watching YouTube videos or drawing mind-maps, all of which can help with your long term memory and understanding. When the going gets tough, I try to set a rough plan of my day and set goals of what I want to accomplish. It keeps my stress levels low and makes me feel accomplished at the end of the day when I get to satisfyingly cross them off the list. Trust me, there is no better feeling. Also, remember: a little work every day is more effective than trying to cram at the end of the year. Cramming never, ever works.

When I feel tired and stressed, I try to imagine myself as a physician treating a patient… And it’ll all be worth it. Sometimes, sleep is the only answer. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is real… Especially when you’re a medical student. When that happens, though, you just need to shut off and sleep because you’re just so much more efficient when you’re well rested.

I can’t believe it’s been over two years already. It goes by so quickly! Before you know it, you will have graduated. So I try to enjoy the learning process and my mentors’ words of wisdom.

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