Mastering medical school

Starting medical school can be daunting.

While figuring out room numbers and building names, you’re also adjusting to life in a new place with new people.

As an organisation that represents you, we understand your fears and we’re familiar with the challenges you are about to face.

We hope you find this resource useful and it helps you through the first few months at medical school.

Listen to real-life advice from fellow students, read our top tips on budgeting, and find out how we can help you to make the most of your time at medical school.

You can join the BMA for FREE as a first year medical student, so why not join today?

Top tips from medical students

Be adventurous

Get involved in the community. For me, it was getting plugged into a church and finding volunteer opportunities.

It’s also a nice way to learn more about your new city and not be thinking about medicine all the time.

Final year international student, Hull

Do what you enjoy

Play music, join sports teams, keep fit, read books that aren’t about medicine. Do what you enjoy. It will help to keep you sane and interesting.

F1, Derbyshire

Make friends

They are the most important thing to be acquired during the first few weeks of medical school.

They bring snacks to break up that three-hour session on public health and, more than anything, they let you know you are not alone.

Second year medical student, Glasgow

‘Don’t buy any textbooks before going to medical school!’

Textbooks

Do not buy any before going to medical school! Ask students in the years above which textbooks they used, and then try them through the university or the BMA library before you decide to purchase your own copy.

F1, Derbyshire

Persevere

My first week of medical school was more daunting than I expected. I suddenly went from being spoon fed for A-levels, to self-directed learning (my medical school practised problem-based learning).

My advice to new starters is to persevere. Some people start the first week flying. I would say it was really in my second or third year of medical school that I started settling in properly.

ST3, Oxford

What one piece of advice would have helped you most at medical school?

That’s the question we asked our members, take a look at some of their responses.

Budgeting for beginners

Medical equipment, travel costs and learning materials can make a large dent in your pocket.

Making a budget at the beginning of the year can pay dividends later on and allow you to live life to the full while studying.

The basic rule is to work out what your outgoings are and then compare them to your income.

The trick is to ensure you have more coming in than going out, with a little spare to cover any emergencies or special treats. Remember to include any bursary and other support funds in your budget.

Don’t change your spending behaviour on loan day

Income

Avoid seeing maintenance loans and grants as free money to spend immediately – don't change your spending behaviour on loan day!

Keep an eye out for grants, it’s always worth looking around and checking eligibility criteria.

Look out for flexible jobs you can fit around your busy timetable, such as ambassadorial roles at open days, to earn some extra money.

Create a savings account for any money made during the holidays so you can make your money work for you throughout the year.

Learn to cook! Cooking is far cheaper than eating out

Expenses

Shop for the best deal in rent and utilities – look out for accommodation with utilities included in the rent.

Learn to cook! It's far cheaper than eating out regularly, especially if you cook with unbranded items.

Subscribing to on-demand TV or film streaming could work out cheaper than a TV licence.

See if you can get student discount on your phone contract and check whether your parents’ insurance covers you.

Compare the cost of fuelling, running, taxing and insuring a car against the cost of a public transport season ticket.

Remember to factor in the costs of sports team and society membership.

Read more financial tips and advice

We can help

BMA library

Access thousands of resources wherever you are in the UK.

Our library specialises in current clinical practice, medical ethics and education – providing access to text books, journals, and specialised resources both online and at BMA House, London.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Our experts search assistance will help source all the medical information you need for your studies.

Medical students also benefit from a free postal send-and-return service, so we can deliver support directly to your door, when you need it most.

Career and education resources

Student BMJ, BMJ Learning and BMJ OnExamination are all available to you as a BMA member.

Look out for OnExamination discounts that take place throughout the year.

Learn more about the BMJ resources available to you

Access career resources and support including webinars and recordings.

Wellbeing support services

From concerns about impending exams, to worries of a neglected social life – we understand the unique challenges that can affect your wellbeing at medical school.

Our team of trained counsellors and peer support staff are available 24/7 and free of charge to all medical students.

You don’t need to be at breaking point to find our services useful, call 0330 123 1245 or visit bma.org.uk/wellbeing

Get your first
year of membership free!

BMA membership will give you essential support throughout your studies and in your personal life.

Freshers are eligible for a free year of BMA membership, and a discounted rate after that.

Start your free membership today