This year I have been on the Warwick Widening Access to Healthcare and Medicine (WHAM) committee and have been in charge of running the mentoring programme to help people apply to medical school. It has been something I have been incredibly passionate about as someone who is the first in my family to attend university and suffered from not having many people support my dream of becoming a doctor. Now I have had the opportunity to give back and hopefully help and encourage people in taking the journey into medicine.
Since taking on the role I have been inundated with myths about medical school applications and medical school life. I have spent more time reassuring people that whilst difficult, medical school is nothing like the horror stories they had been told. So I decided to pick up the most common myths I have received in emails and in discussions with people and post them here.
Medical School is about intelligence
Medicine is about work ethic and discipline in order to be successful just as much as intelligence. I would honestly say you need more of the former. If you have the drive to learn and be a good doctor, you will keep going until you learn it. And that’s something intelligence doesn’t give you.
You give up your social life
Whilst your social life won’t be like it was at school or your undergraduate degree (if you are thinking about graduate medicine). You are still able to have a social life if you manage your time well. There is ample opportunity for you to be active, do activities, visit friends in a non-medic capacity and even have a part time job if you need one!
Only science-y people do medicine
This completely wrong and a big reason why I got into working in widening participation anyway. Whilst I came from a science background, some of the most compassionate and hardworking medical students I have met have come from a non-science background. There are many routes into medical school; more and more universities are seeing the value in non-science medics and are taking great steps in opening up medicine to these people. You don’t need to do all the sciences and maths at A-level. Check the medical school requirements, most just want biology and chemistry if you aren’t entering at a graduate level.
You’ll have to be doing all nighters to pass
There are many rumours and indeed memes about medical students revising constantly in order to stay on top of the workload, often forgoing sleep to do this. This is unhealthy and again unnecessary if you manage your time well and revise constantly throughout the year rather than in the lead up to the exam. Your body and mind will thank you for sleeping, and you’ll find yourself more productive.
If I study the curriculum I will learn everything I can be tested on
You will never know all you need to know especially considering how many subjects you study simultaneously. The lectures are designed to provide you with a foundation to help you with further reading (if you don’t loose track or still not understand the basics!). The depth at which you learn a topic usually depends on your interest what you are learning and the curriculum simply guides your learning and sets boundaries on examinable content. It’s a hard concept to come to terms with.
So these were the five most common medical school based myths that weren’t about the application process itself… that’s a whole separate minefield. Do you have any other myths people tell you about studying medicine? Comment below!