#ThinkAheadMed – what I wish I had known starting my first year

Top tips for surviving the first few months of university

Location: Northern Ireland
Published: Monday 21 September 2020
victoria paice


You’re not alone, so go easy on yourself

  • Always remember that everyone is going through the same thing as you, even if some look like they have it together
  • Starting university, especially studying medicine, brings a lot of changes regardless of your previous experience. It will take some time until you adapt and find your own rhythm – it’s okay to make mistakes as you figure out what this is
  • Don’t compare yourself to others and remind yourself that you deserve to be there – you earned it. Make sure to use your friends and family for support, try something new, and ask for help when you need it.

Keep it simple

  • Eating out quickly adds up. Making pre-packed packed lunches / coffees can save a lot of money. Also, prepare meals in advance to save time
  • For clinical clothes, keep a look out for sales (I find H&M is great for professional clothes). Buying a staple pair of trousers/skirt and a few shirts means more outfits by just changing the shirt.


Learning in first year

  • Don’t be afraid to change how you revise as it can be a trial and error process to find what works for you
  • Since there is so much content in medicine, active learning helps stay on top of lectures and makes it easier for information to stay in your long-term memory. You can actively learn by testing yourself using question banks such as PassMedicine, Geekymedics - geekyquiz, BMJ OnExamination, and making flashcards to make your own questions using Anki or Quizlet
  • Practice question banks help improve your exam technique (MCQ/SBA are a new format) and to focus on topics that you are not as confident in
  • For difficult topics, a textbook can really help as they go into more detail and may explain something better than a lecture or online resource
  • YouTube can help summarise topics into a digestible and understandable way, especially when you’re struggling with a topic. Check out channels such as Armando Hasudungan, Ninja Nerd, Anatomy knowledge, Geekymedics (great for OSCEs), Osmosis, Speed Pharmacology, Anatomyzone, Acland’s Video Atlas
  • Some helpful resources to conquer anatomy: Teachmeanatomy (the best!); 3D anatomy apps such as 3D Human and Visible Body; Anatomy flashcards – Netters, Grays, Rohens (cadaver images - best for spot tests); Kenhub; Anatomy atlas e.g. Rohens (fantastic for spot tests).


Career – ThinkAheadMed in first year

Societies and online events

  • First year is when you have the most free time to learn more about different specialities, expand your interests and build that CV. A great way to do that is by joining societies
  • Societies are also a great opportunity to make new friends and meet students in the years above who can help you throughout medical school
  • Some societies hold revision classes, such as Scrubs and Asian Medical Students’ Association. They are a great way to learn more about a speciality, expand your knowledge and you could get a certificate of attendance
  • Remember! Due to the current pandemic, many of these society revision classes, and many other events, webinars and conferences that are of great help to medical students, have moved online. Keep an eye out on social media for details on when such events take place as many are now free and open worldwide.  The United Kingdom Medical Student Opportunities Facebook page is a good place to start.