One thing is for certain: choose to undertake a degree in medicine and no one will ever accuse you of taking the easy option. As any qualified doctor will attest, being a medical student involves more hard work and dedication than anything school or college can throw at you.
With enough talent, passion and commitment, however, you may well find that choosing medicine was the best decision you ever made. Few degrees are seen to be as rewarding and even fewer set you up for a career as well respected.
So, what do you need to know before you throw yourself into the life of a medical student. Here are a few key things:
You’ll gain knowledge that you will need to draw on for the rest of your career
There’s rarely a dull day for medical students and, as anyone attending med school will tell you, each day will present you with learnings that must be absorbed in order to use later in life.
Many university degrees help students to work on soft skills and develop academic prowess without having a direct bearing on their employment. Yet when you study medicine you are taking important steps towards developing professional knowledge.
The workload is intense
Studying medicine requires you to put more effort in than your average student. There are typically more contact hours in medical degrees than the majority of other subjects – combining lectures with practical exercises. In addition to this, medicine is a degree littered with essays, practical assessments and examinations that must all be studied for.
There will be fun times
As much as a degree in medicine is a tough ride, you will still be able to enjoy the undergraduate experience. In fact, you may find that you want to join a sports team, music group our similar, just to help you let off steam. Whatever you like to do in your spare time, try to ensure that it is a social activity – this is because your communication skills will be crucial as a doctor, and you will want to work at them at every opportunity.
Being squeamish is a problem
Many institutions don’t take long to get you up close and personal with the human anatomy. In fact, some universities incorporate dissections of human subjects into the first year curriculum. If the idea of picking up a scalpel and getting stuck in fills you with dread, you may wish to seek advice from those who have been there before you. During your degree you don’t have to be happy about getting to grips with blood and guts but you do need to learn to get comfortable with it.
Medicine is a long old course
There’s no getting away from it: studying medicine is something of a marathon. As an undergraduate you will find yourself studying for 5–6 years at least and, due to the workload it is unlikely that you’ll be enjoying long holidays without any study during this time.
Of course, patients are happy to hear that doctors are so thoroughly trained. But the body of work one must get through in order to pass the undergraduate stage is not to be ignored. Even the brightest talents will need to be dedicated, organised and efficient.
Knowing what you’re letting yourself in for can help
Until you truly get into the swing of any degree it is difficult to know if it is the right choice for you. In fact, as a young person with life ahead of you, the range of options open to you – from astronaut to optometrist – may be enough to make you feel confused and dizzy. But if you believe that medicine might be for you and you are keen to investigate this avenue more, there are some great ways to dip your toe in the medical water.
Courses like the Medicine summer school course at Cambridge Immerse is perfect for those looking to explore the kind of topics they may be exposed to at university level. Offering 1 and 2-week courses held in Cambridge University colleges, this can be a great insight into the world of university Medicine. Find out more at https://www.cambridgeimmerse.com/our-programmes/medicine/.