I have uploaded a video on my Youtube channel where I answer some of the most frequently asked questions about medical school for the people who are interested in studying medicine.
Of course my answers are not representative for every medical student in the world. This is just how I experience it!
Since I made the video for my university, the video is entirely in Dutch, that is why I made a little blog post with the questions and answers written in English.
You can find the questions and answers down below! (The answers will not be entirely the same as in the video just because I haven’t made the video and the text at the same time but the core will be the same!)
Ik heb een nieuwe video geupload op mijn Youtube kanaal waar ik een aantal vragen beantwoord met betrekking tot de studie geneeskunde!
Deze video is voornamelijk bedoeld voor mensen die geïnteresseerd zijn in de studie geneeskunde dus deze blog post en/of video zal niet interessant zijn voor al mijn volgers!
Deze video was oorspronkelijk gemaakt voor mijn universiteit, wat waarschijnlijk wel mijn antwoorden enigszins heeft beïnvloed.
1) Do you have a life next to medical school? Do you have time to enjoy life?
Of course it is a study that requires a lot of your time and energy, I am not going to lie about that!
For me personally, the first 4 years were the hardest because I had exam periods all the time and books that needed to be studied.
The problem is with medical school, you can always study more and harder.
You never really know how much free time you can actually take.
I always tried to see medical school as a 9 to 5 job (especially in the beginning of the semester, not in exam periods of course!).
That way you have a schedule to follow. I always said to myself I will study from that hour to that hour and then I can do what I want!
I think it is important to schedule your time, so that you always have some free time left to do what you want to do.
Of course exam periods are hard and don’t allow for free time at all. I always thought that was the hardest part of medical school!
I am now in a more relaxed part of my studies, which I love (but I know it won’t be that way for long, haha, since medical finals are approaching and my thesis will need to be finished at a certain point).
I don’t have any exams at the moment and I only have rotations (and on calls) to do, so that gives me some more freedom.
When it’s weekend, I actually know that I am completely free (yes, sometimes I am on call at emergency but not every weekend) and when I still had exam periods I always knew that there were books waiting on me.
To summarize, a good planning is very important in medical school!
It is a very competitive study and you can always work harder and more, but I think a healthy work/study/life balance is important so it’s important you take a day off from time to time.
You will have -on average- less free time than most studies in the world but if you have a passion for something, you will get there and you will manage to sacrifice a bit more free time than the average student.
(I don’t want to say other studies don’t require a lot of time and energy, but it is true that medical school requires more sacrifices than the average student in the average study. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t studies that require as much time and energy. 😉 I was just talking about averages here!)
2) Do you have tips to study better and more efficient?
If I am completely honest, I wasn’t the best student throughout my whole life!
I know that is a bit in my disadvantage as a medical student because it is important to be a good student in medical school.
However, throughout the years I learned a few things that helped me to get better grades and to study more efficient. (I did have some medical issues with studying which I talk about in previous blog posts but I won’t include that here)
They always say that you learn of your mistakes and I think that’s why I can give you some good advices. 😉
1) First of all, this generation of students has a LOT more distractions that students had 20-30-40 years ago!!
The technology we have is a HUGE distraction.
If you check your screen time on your smartphone, I think you would be ashamed of all of your wasted time. 😉
When you remove your smartphone when you are studying, you will notice that you will become a lot more productive!
Make sure your smartphone is turned OFF and isn’t near you so you can’t get distracted.
When you aren’t focused, you will grab that smartphone and you will scroll through some app. Before you know it, you were distracted for 45 minutes while you only wanted to scroll for 5 minutes. Oops!
Biggest time waster!!!!
Also, I do believe the smartphone (and laptop) is the reason why this generation is a lot less productive.
2) This tip belongs to tip number 1, but next to your smartphone you should also remove your laptop.
There was a time where I thought it would save trees (and my money :p) to not print my courses but to study them on my laptop.
It is really risky to do that because it is so easy to get distracted when you are studying on your laptop.
It’s easy to open a tab and loose A LOT of time that you didn’t want to loose.
3) Make a planning! Try to study with a planning everyday.
Try to say to yourself: I will study this amount of hours today with enough breaks.
For example, you can say I will study 3 hours in the morning with a break of 30 minutes.
When you try to follow that planning, you will see that you’re more productive and efficient.
4) Make summaries!
With all of these big courses you need to study in medicine, it is very easy to loose yourself in the details.
That was at least my biggest problem in medical school.
It’s good to make a summary with the essence because in the end that’s the most important thing to know as a doctor.
The details are maybe good for the exam, but you will easily forget about them later and in the end, the essence is what you really need as a doctor (especially in emergency situations!).
Personally, I never really saw the use of details about some chromosome or enzyme when it isn’t relevant for real life situations…
3) How can you have a good study/work life balance in medical school?
I already answered this in question number 1 for a big part.
I think it is a bit easier to have a good study/work life balance when you’re doing rotations because you know that when you’re off, you’re off.
Of course you can always study after your day at the hospital, but that’s up to you.
It is not always easy to have a good study/work life balance in medical school because sometimes there are too many things to do or to finish.
For example, you don’t really have a good study life balance when you’re in exam period. 😉
That’s just something you have to accept!
I also know that my study/work life balance won’t be good when medical finals are approaching next year.
That’s where I will have to combine doing rotations with studying for medical finals so I won’t have a good study/work life balance.
Anyway, there are also more calm periods in medical school.
At the moment, I have no exams and no deadlines which is why my work life balance is pretty good at the moment.
I try to do my best when I am the hospital and when I am off I might work a bit for medical school but in the weekends (when I am not on call) I do whatever I want!
When you are still in the phase where you only have exam periods and classes to follow, I would advise you to make a good planning.
Try to see medical school as a 9 to 5 job (I will never forget the advice that I got the first day of medical school :p).
Sometimes you will work or study more than a 9 to 5 job (also when I am having rotations in the hospital, most of the time I work a bit more than that), but just try to make sure to find time for the things you LOVE next to medicine.
Just like me, my passion is blogging and I always find time for it because I make sure I have time!!!
4) How did you know you were going to be a doctor?
I wanted to make a video about that to be honest, but you should definitely check out this blog post. 😉
Also, my father is a doctor so he was always an inspiration for me to become a doctor myself.
Next to that, I have always been interested in sciences since I was very young.
5) What was your least favorite part of medical school?
The exam periods for sure! I always thought these were hard.
Unfortunately, you just have to go through it to become a doctor!
6) Do you still Google things when you don’t feel well?
No, because we have learned that Google isn’t the best source for medical information.
We use the site UptoDate, it is more evidence based. 😉
7) Do you have anatomy dissections?
Yes, I had that in second year of bachelor in KU Leuven.
It sounds very gross to be in a room with dead bodies… I know… Actually, I never had so many problems with it, because it is just an essential part of the study.
It is important to know anatomy very well!
There were some people in my study that had some problems with it at first, but at the end everyone got used to it and I haven’t seen anyone fainting. 😉
Also, if you have any questions about medical school, you can always contact me!
Indien je vragen hebt over de studie geneeskunde, mag je mij altijd contacteren!
Lots of love,