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

by Aidan Murray

Find study groups, keep an open mind and life outside learning medicine – tips on success for your second year at medical school

Location: Northern Ireland
Published: Monday 28 September 2020
Aidan Murray


  • This year gets going from the first day and seems heavier than first year. Working consistently in small volumes (1-2 hours per evening) will allow you to keep on top of everything
  • Don’t be distracted by how others in your year appear to be performing in tutorials or practicals. You can’t control what work others are doing
  • Don’t take your foot off the pedal during the Christmas break; by keeping working for your PODT exam when you return, you’ll take a lot of pressure off yourself for the end of phase exams
  • Even where you feel you have under-performed in continuous assessments, it is never too late to reassess and get into a better routine
  • Don’t forget that your tutors are there to support you and you can reach out to your pastoral lead for year 2 or even your GP or the Student Union if you are struggling to manage with the workload
  • Your peers are there to support you as well; creating study groups is also a great way to hold each other accountable and stay on track with your work
  • Extra-curricular activities, societies and sport outside of medicine are a great help to forget about university life for a couple of hours each week.


Learning in second year

  • A few days before a tutorial, revise the relevant lectures and attempt the questions in the tutorial (excluding treatment tutorials, which recommend attempting them in the class)
  • Use tutorials as a way of revising modules closer to the exams, seeing what extra information you could have added
  • In anatomy, do the recommended reading before dissection and make notes on it targeting the learning outcomes. This makes dissection and much more useful exercise, especially as this module is primarily self-directed learning
  • Where concepts are difficult, recommended reading for modules and reliable YouTube sources are all great to reinforce teaching
  • In SSCs (Student Selected Components), choose subject areas in which you are actually interested. This reduces the workload associated with the module
  • Prepare thoroughly for clinical skills teaching and CSEC (Clinical Skills Education Centre); you get more from your tutor and shakes off a lot of the nerves associated with interacting with patients. Make good use of the med portal.


Career – ThinkaheadMed in second year

  • In second year, we are all still very early in our careers. I’d encourage you to explore different areas in which you are interested and speak to clinicians about their work
  • Don’t become too focused or close-minded on what areas of medicine interest you, you never know what may catch your eye at this early stage.