Dispelling the Myths of Medicine
8 months ago by Chris
The idea of studying medicine at university can seem like a very daunting prospect. There are many myths and false beliefs about the degree which allow these fears to prosper. Having completed my first year studying medicine at Monash University, I hope I can dispel some of your fears about studying medicine at university.
1. Medicine is ULTRA competitive
Granted, Medicine, like all high-achieving courses, is competitive. Many medical students are extremely dedicated to their studies and strive to get the best out of themselves. However, one of the great aspects of medicine is that one of the most difficult things about the course is to actually gain entry into the degree. As such, after entry into medicine, there is almost a sense of comradery between the students, who are all willing to help each other and engage in group study. In fact, through much of my year, students were constantly sharing different study tools and notes which have helped them. The actual degree of medicine, therefore, is not as competitive as you might think.
2. “I won’t have any social time”
This is completely wrong. In fact, one of the beauties of studying medicine is that all students share exactly the same timetable and so it is very easy to meet lots of new people. This is unlike other degrees where it may be difficult to meet new people due to having completely different timetables to everyone else.
Also, medicine has a much smaller cohort than most degrees, which means it is almost like attending school again. This allows you to meet most of the people in your year level and get to know them.
In addition, you have less ‘contact hours’ at university compared to school. I had roughly 20 hours of classes per week in my first year of medicine, which was actually very similar to students studying science and biomed. This leaves plenty of time for you to be social (and medical students have a reputation for having lots of fun), pursue your extra-curricular interests and hold a part time job.
So don’t be put off by the fear that you won’t have any social time – if you are organised, you will definitely have time for other pursuits.
3. “I’m not smart enough”
As with all situations, intellect will only get you so far – it’s also about motivation and hard work. Medical students as a cohort are generally very capable, and this can make you feel that you are not good enough. However, of the greatest lessons I have learnt this year is that it is those students who are willing to work the hardest who will succeed the most. As the course has so much content, you cannot solely rely on your intelligence to get you through the year. As someone once said: “’I can’ is more important than IQ”. Dedication is the key.
Also remember that the hardest part about medical school is getting in – once you get in, things get easier. No medical school exam is as difficult as UCAT, for example!
4. “I’ll never make it through”
You are your own greatest obstacle at university. If you got into a medical course, you’ve definitely got what it takes to make it through the course. The most successful students in medical school are those who work hard and are dedicated – not those who are the smartest. In addition, because the cohort is relatively small in size, the medical faculty is great at attending to the needs of students. If you are struggling or fall ill, you can most definitely talk to the faculty and arrange some help. Finally, if you are on the borderline of passing, or have just failed, the faculty offers supplementary exams. These are essentially another chance to prove that you are capable and should proceed through to next year of the medical course. Very, very few medical students drop out or fail to progress through medical school.
Yes, the idea of studying medicine at university can seem daunting, but there are good reasons to look beyond the many myths and false beliefs which allow these fears to prosper. Many students have been in your shoes and have gone on to successfully study medicine and excel in their careers as a doctor. So why not you too?
Written by Jack, a past MedEntry student who obtained 99th percentile in UCAT and is currently studying medicine.