Finding the balance: my advice to first-year medical students

by Krishny Shibi

The uni experience is short so best find ways to enjoy it and take time out of study

Location: England
Published: Tuesday 24 August 2021
Krishny Shibi

Firstly, congratulations on getting into medical school!

All the revision, volunteering, extra-curriculars, reading, and whatever else you may have completed, has gotten you the spot you were after!

As a BMA medical students committee representative about to start my final year at Plymouth, I can say that my experience was not what I expected. One thing I would tell anyone in your position is to understand that finding the course hard or stressful is normal, because learning for GCSEs and A levels is nothing like studying at university. Even the most confident – maybe even cocky – person on your course will have felt that at some point.

You are not alone in finding things hard.

Trust me, imposter syndrome is a thing most medical students face at some point! If you find that what is happening is either making you ignore the problem or become hyper-aware of it, seek some advice and help – there is nothing wrong in doing so.

Finding the balance between feeling like I had done enough work and wanting to socialise with my friends was quite tricky in my first year. As medical students, we can often form a bit of a bubble and while it helps to surround yourself with others in the same boat, it’s also really helpful to branch out and make friends with people from other courses.

Perhaps my most important piece of advice is to encourage you to ENJOY your time at uni. It isn’t forever and while you definitely want to get that balance, nobody expects you to live in a library 24/7 – it’s not the norm nor healthy! Go for that coffee or drink, play that match or go for that swim – all those extra things that you have on your personal statements don’t have to stop because you’ve made it here!

Simply put, make sure you still find time to enjoy things outside of medicine, because in the long run, when you have exams and are having to work a long shift as a qualified doctor, you need to be able to find something that can help you relax and unwind from whatever kind of day you have had. That is one of the most commonly occurring themes of advice I have heard from older medical students and doctors – the importance of taking time out for yourself.

I hope you enjoy your time in prepping for uni and go on to have a great first year!

Krishny Shibi is a final year student at Plymouth University and the BMA medical students committee representative for Plymouth