The Life Of A Medical Student; What Is Medical School Like?

Doctors are heroes that society often fails to duly appreciate. Their true worth is mainly recognized in rare cases where their services are needed the most like during global pandemics, emergencies, strikes, wars, and other scenarios that reduce the gap between life and death.

Every doctor was once a medical student. And the virtues which they deploy is saving lives were formed in medical schools.

Who Is A Medical Student?

A medical student is someone who is receiving formal training in medical school with the goal of becoming a doctor someday.

Medical students pass through rigorous training that is designed to produce doctors who are;

  • Resilient and able to cope well under intense pressure.
  • Smart and intelligent
  • Quick in making decisions upon which the lives of people depend with very little errors
  • Diligent

By the end of this post, you are going to find out the following;

  1. What’s Medical School Like?
  2. What A day the life of a medical student looks like (Medical Students In Nigeria As a Case Study)
  3. How Busy Are Medical Students?
  4. How Many Hours A Week Do Medical Students Study?
  5. Is Being A Medical Student Fun?
  6. Do Medical Students Enjoy Their Life?
  7. Does Medical School Ruin Your Life?
  8. Do Med Students Have No Life?
  9. Basic Things A Medical Student Should Know

What Is Medical School Like?

All medical schools are not the same, and all are not equal. The mode of training given to a medical school in the U.S is very different from that received by a medical student in the U.K, Canada, Australia, and all over the world even though the teachings are very similar.

For example, for a medical student to be accepted into a medical school in the U.S.A, it is required that they must have passed through a premed school where they study some medical school majors (courses) for 4 years before they are accepted into medical school.

It is the same for a medical school in Canada, and some other medical schools in Australia.

But for medical schools in the U.K, and Nigerian medical schools, one can be admitted directly into medical school directly after they have completed their secondary school education.

Medical education generally comprises of two different phases;

The pre-clinical

This period starts from the time you enter medical school till after 2 years in the United States and Canada. But in Nigeria, the preclinical period lasts up to 3 years.

During this time, medical students do not work directly with patients, rather, they take those courses for medical students meant for preclinical students.

Medical students spend the bulk of their time during the preclinical years receiving lectures in the classrooms, performing practicals like anatomical dissection using models and cadavers.

The clinical period

This is the time from your 2nd year in medical school in U.S and Canada till you become a doctor. And from your 3rd year in Nigerian medical school till you become a doctor.

During the preclinical years, you have access to patients directly but under the guidance of a superior or a senior doctor.

A day the life of a medical student in Nigeria

What is medical school like
What is medical school like?

Below is a summary of all the activities of an average medical student in Nigeria in a clinical class on school days he wishes to be effective;

What A Very Good Day In The Life Of A Medical Student Looks Like

By a very good day, I actually mean the days I am highly motivated to be effective and serious in school.

Currently, I am a final-year medical school student, and the bulk of my time is spent in the clinics and wards for rotations.

Embracing The Morn

On a very good school day which I have chosen to be effective, I wake up from sleep at 5 am.

This is usually following a previously effective day when I retire to bed for night sleep at 12:30 am.

Upon rising, I charge up myself for the day by doing a 5 minutes meditation, after which I either do a 15-minute workout inside my room using a workout mobile app. Or sometimes I visit the class gym to lift some weights.

After this, I take a cold shower. This exercise charges me up for the day and clears my head to face the day ahead.

Early Morning Reading

On such days, I also enjoy reading a few study materials from previous lectures, and tutorials early in the morning usually from 6 am to 7:30 am.

School Work Begins

I usually have lectures on zoom from 8:00 am to 9:00 am due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And after that comes clinical rotations in the hospital wards or clinics.

During this period, I take history and examine patients under the supervision of my Consultant.

Clinic and ward rounds are usually dismissed from around 2 pm to 4 pm in the evening.

But on days that I have tutorials or on Surgery days it could last longer than that.

Evening zoom lectures follow immediately from 3 pm till 6 pm in the evening, sometimes 7 pm to 8 pm.

I once had a Radiology tutorial that lasted till 11 pm in the night.

But most days are not like that. Usually, the lectures typically dismiss before 8 pm.

Eating Time

I do not have a rigid timetable for feeding. But I rarely eat in the morning before going to school because I feel it makes me slower during school.

But I can eat anytime in-between clinical rotations or surgeries.

Most of the time, I eat after clinical rotations by 3 pm while going back to the hostel from school.

Reading And Study Time

In the clinical years of medical school, it is difficult to set out a special time for your studies as most of your time is either occupied by lectures, clinical rotations, surgeries, and tutorials.

So the ideal study time is usually those break periods between lectures, in the clinics, in between surgeries, and even while eating sometimes and in the bus while going to the hospital and clinics.

The Night Medic

I am most effective at night. You could call me a night person if that sounds right.

This is because I read mostly at night before sleeping and achieve lots of other non-academic goals at night.

On days that am not preparing for any test or exams, I read till 11:00 pm starting from whenever the zoom lectures stopped.

And from 11:00 pm till 12:00 am, I engage myself with my other passions like;

Writing and publishing blog posts and articles

Working on my blog

Digital marketing and engagement on my social channels.

Most of the time, I choose to leave the time from 12:00 am to 12:30 am to myself. This is for reading good books and insightful content or watching specialized YouTube videos that are not academically related, but that teach concepts about life, philosophy, psychology, and random facts.

My Hobbies and Other Activities Especially On Weekends

On days that are not my very good days, I engage in other extra-curricular activities and relaxation exercises like;

  • Teaching digital marketing online
  • Playing monopoly board game with friends
  • Playing video games
  • Playing table tennis
  • Watching movies
  • Going for Medical association meetings, and other social club meeting like Rotaract club of my school.
  • I enjoy solo-hiking too, but once in a while.

Honestly, I rarely have time for all these activities. So I carefully select days for each of the social activities. Sometimes it’s just about once or twice a month.

How Busy Are Medical Students?

Medical students are one the busiest students in undergraduate school.

Ideally, an average Medical student spends up to 70% of their time either reading for a test or an exam, or in the hospital for ward rounds, clinics, and surgical theaters.

The medical career is a full-time profession with little to no time for other extra-curricular activities.

Only a few students are actually able to combine medical school and part-time work.

Although this is strongly discouraged by student administrators.

How Many Hours A Week Do Medical Students Study?

Including the time spent during clinical rotations; clinics, ward rounds, lectures, and surgical theatre, (6-7 hours a day), an average medical student spend about 10 to 12 hours learning on a very good day.

This could increase to 15 to 18 hours when medical exams or tests are close by.

For active personal study, an average medical student spends around 2 to 5 hours actively studying in a day when they are not preparing for any exams.

So how many hours a week do medical students study?

Average medical students study an average of 105 hours to 126 hours a week during exams or tests. And an average of 70 hours to 84 hours a week when there are no tests.

These figures are not ideal as there are some days when medical students could go all 24 hours without opening a book (But may have attended lectures and clinical rotations).

Is Being A Medical Student Fun? 

life of a medical student
Do Medical students have fun?

Highly cerebral individuals take learning as a very hilarious exercise especially in a setting like medical school.

At first, it was very stressful especially during my preclinical days, but now I actually find it more challenging than stressful.

I especially enjoy the time I and my colleagues recall the moments during clinical rotations when a colleague or a senior commits a blunder during history taking or physical examination, and how the consultants react.

Apart from that, medical students enjoy the respect that comes from family members and friends especially those studying other medical-related courses.

Do Medical Students Enjoy Their Life?

It will be difficult to succeed in medical school if you do not enjoy what you do.

The more passionate medical students are, the more likely they are to perform better in exams.

High pass rates in medical exams are strongly correlated to the level of interest and zeal shown by a medical student during learning activities.

So most medical students have actually come to love learning and reading. You could call that enjoyment too.

Does Medical School Ruin Your Life?

does medical school ruin your life?
Does medical school ruin your life?

I have seen people who fail out of medical school, also some who have repeated the same medical exams so many times.

Medical school can actually ruin your life especially if you have no other backup career plan in life apart from being a doctor.

On the other hand, I have seen a lot of highly talented and gifted people in other fields in life in medical school who rarely find time to fuel such passions.

Such people end up killing such talents due to their disuse of them.

I have also seen some people who were able to use such talents to some extent even while in medical school.

It all boils down to finding your purpose and direction in life by answering very important career questions before applying for admission into medical school.

Medical school is a full-time career path, so before you enter medical school, you must be willing to give it a great deal of your time, if not all of your time.

Do Med Students Have No Life?

That medical school can ruin your life does not necessarily mean that medical students have no life.

Some Medical students actually have fun and engage in other extra-curricular activities as I mentioned above including partying.

The major difference between medical students and other students here is that we have fun in moderation to be able to keep up with our rigorous academic requirements.

Basic Things A Medical Student Should Know

  • Medical school is a full time career path and should be treated as such to reduce stress and burnout.
  • You can find better timetables that suit you and the medical school you attend for efficiency
  • You must not spend your whole time in medical school on academic activities only. You can find time and acquire various skills of cross-sectional relevance that could be a boost in your career.
  • Do not let medical school to kill your natural talents. Find time to develop them.
  • Use hobbies to ease up accumulated stress
  • Being in medical school is actually fun. Find a way to enjoy your stay there.

Conclusion

Now you have seen what a day in the life of a medical student actually looks like. But remember that different medical students have different daily timetables that are largely affected by their level in school and the medical school they attend.

Also, I attempted to give a general overview of the answer to the question; What is medical school like using my own school as an example.

I would like to hear what medical school is like for you, what does your best day in medical school like?

Comment using the comment box below.


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