What advice would our most experienced members hand down to their student selves? This issue, we hear from Dr Christine Heron, consultant radiologist, MDU non-executive director and member of the Council and Cases Committee.

Broaden your horizons

A period of medical training gives you a licence never to feel bored. As a medical student, I had rather limited knowledge about the diversity of opportunities that are opened up by a career in medicine. Many of these are available to medical students but I did not really discover them until I had qualified.

Firstly, as you are no doubt fully aware, there are numerous different specialties to consider within medicine. With the need to make relatively early decisions about postgraduate training, it is advisable to investigate as many of these as possible whilst you are at medical school. All of the Royal Colleges encourage involvement by medical students and you will quickly learn what you are drawn to and gain valuable experience.

Although the medical curriculum is demanding in terms of time, there is still the opportunity to use another side of your brain and also pursue related interests whilst at medical school. There are opportunities in medical leadership and management, medical journalism, ethical and legal aspects of medicine, and of course research, to name but a few. As both a medical student and then as a doctor, it can be good to develop new interests, enlarge your circle of friends and generally enjoy yourself in these pursuits, in addition to the day job.

Although the medical curriculum is demanding in terms of time, there is still the opportunity to use another side of your brain.

Look out for your colleagues

Unfortunately, society in general has become more litigious since I was a medical student. This is not unique to medicine and affects virtually everyone in many different areas of employment. Knowing this, there are a number of things that medical students can do to prepare for the workplace.

Look out for your friends and colleagues plus others with whom you work closely. Collaborative working minimises adverse incidents and facilitates the resolution of problems if they do arise. It also makes life more fun.

Learning to reflect on adverse incidents and how you can play a part in avoiding similar occurrences in the future is very important. However, it can also help to develop a resilient personality and learn not to take matters too personally if things do not proceed smoothly, despite our best efforts. The GMC is aware of this and has discussed including training in relation to these issues within the medical student curriculum.

Remaining a member of a good defence organisation gives peace of mind and allows access to many helpful benefits. The MDU offers training seminars in addition to valuable advice on the website and the advice line. Their professional teams will assist in resolving any issues which may arise, leaving you free to concentrate on a career that is both exciting and fulfilling.

This page was correct at publication on 22/04/2016. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.