Top tips for learners applying to study medicine

Are you in the process of preparing your application for medicine at university? As a highly competitive degree, a range of different experiences, skills and characteristics are required to not only impress admissions tutors and secure a spot in the first place, but to also succeed in the degree once you get your offer.

While there is no quick hack to succeed in medicine, there are several skills that can be developed which can boost your applications. When applied throughout your studying, they can also make life a lot easier, ensuring that you give yourself the best chance at success.

Here, second year medical student at the University of Cambridge, James Bibey, one of medicine and biomedical sciences instructors at the Seren International Online Summer School, shares his five key tips for learners applying to study medicine and how to succeed in the degree.

1. Have an open mind

Many learners will find that they enjoy different topics at university compared to school or college, with lots of new areas covered during a medicine degree, such as anatomy and pharmacy. While we all have our likes and dislikes, you should ensure that you do not close yourself off to any of the subject areas that come up during your studies. Maintaining an open mind and ensuring that you engage with the content in each module as much as you can it will give you an interesting blend of subject-specific knowledge and provide you with a good basis for future skills development.

2. Know how you learn

Biomedical science students tend to have a lot of lectures and practical sessions so think about how you will take notes and revise effectively to use your time well. Some students prefer to note every single word within a lecture while others would rather make mind maps and diagrams to aid their learning. It doesn’t matter how you learn, only that you are aware of what works for you. Doing so will help you manage your time and absorb as much knowledge of the subject in a way that suits your learning style.

3. Prioritise your time

Medicine has a lot of content, so you can’t learn it all – be prepared to prioritise what is most important. University studies can place a high amount of pressure on students at times but, by effectively using your time when it comes to studying and revision periods, you will be able to successfully delegate tasks and differentiate between the most and least important. By gradually mastering the skill of time management, you will be able to facilitate a smooth transition.

4. Keep your hobbies

Studying medicine is hard so make sure you balance your work with some downtime doing the things you enjoy to support your mental health. It does not matter what – whether it’s running, knitting, reading, or painting – it is crucial that you do not let go of these hobbies. You don’t have to be an expert – the only thing that matters is that you enjoy it and are able to disconnect yourself from your studies. As you transition into university life, it is likely that you will find new interests – ensure that you find time for these too. Taking time out will ensure that your studies do not take a toll on your wellbeing – keeping a balanced lifestyle is key.

5. Prepare for the long haul

Medical professionals have very long training periods, with many continuing their education after their degrees. Take every day as it comes and remain motivated. You will undoubtedly see improvements in your skills and abilities over time. This runs hand in hand with the need to take regular breaks and to enjoy your hobbies. This will provide you with some perspective on your studies and on your journey in obtaining a medicine degree.

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