I've learnt the importance of asking for help when it's needed

'Over the last year, the main thing I have learnt is the importance of asking for help when it's needed.  I’ve had a pretty busy year juggling medicine with keeping up a busy social life, being VP of my medical society and a trustee of the student union, and working in my spare time.  If I didn't have a strong support network around me there's no way I could have managed all of this.

'At Leicester, we have very strong academic and pastoral support departments and I would strongly advise that every student sees them, because they can help with even the smallest things! I also found talking things through with friends helpful and I think it's really important to have a good group of people around you to help survive medicine.'

'If anything, I wish that I had spent more time with friends over the last year as they are my strongest source of support. A good friend once told me that you should prioritise yourself and your social life; then your medical degree, and after that do everything else. I think this is a great outlook to get through uni with the best experience, and I would encourage everyone to think about planning their time with this in mind.

'Looking ahead, I want to have as much fun over the next year as possible. University is meant to be enjoyable, and we need to make the most of it before we start working!  I hope that I can stay busy over the next year and put myself forward for new and exciting opportunities, hopefully meeting lots of interesting people along the way.

'I'm excited to start full-time clinical placement from January and can't wait to see what challenges it brings. I hope that my friends and I have a successful year ahead.'

Jamie Carruthers, third year student, Vice-President of Academic, Welfare and Sponsorship, LUSUMA, Leicester University

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It's OK to make mistakes. I shouldn't worry about what others think if I do something wrong, and only I make a change to my future.

'Currently I am halfway through third year, starting my clinical placements in January. My last year has been filled with many ups and a few downs. When I look back, I can say that I wouldn't do much differently in terms of whether I passed exams or not. However, I think like the majority, I will probably always feel like I could have studied more and focused more time on revision.

'For me, the year was very tough, academically and in general. This was partly due to the heavy scientific and clinical content necessary for my winter exam, but also because I was in the process of trying to sort a lot of personal things. Up until the point of my winter exam, I had never really been unsuccessful in an exam and unfortunately my winter exam didn't quite go my way. It was upsetting to comprehend, however I am happy with how I dealt with it. For anyone reading this, I found it very helpful to forget and not dwell on the result, to stay positive and make changes to ensure I passed the year first-time around....which is what I did.

'I'm sure you're wondering, what did I do differently that enabled me to pass my exams? Honestly, I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was, but I think that changing my revision technique to one that I thought worked better may have played a part. One thing I've never fully perfected however, is finding a revision technique that I swear by. I think it's something I've just accepted and taken in my stride…but as long as I'm aware of what works better for me, I try to stick with it and do what I can.'

'I am very involved in extracurricular activities, social events and having a role within the medical school. I enjoy it a lot and it's a great way for me to do other things alongside my degree. In hindsight, I do not regret anything I've gotten involved in, however I do wish I had prioritised better. Non-medicine activities are very much needed, however balance is key and I think that's where I could've done better and studied more.

'I also started placements this year, roughly once every week, and I feel that I should've been more enthusiastic and involved. My reasons were a mix of always feeling tired and a huge lack of confidence in my abilities, but I realised that I will never improve if I don't try. I've learnt that it's OK to make mistakes; I shouldn't worry about what others think if I do something wrong, and finally, only I can make a change to my future.

'When I start full-time placements in 2018, my aim is to study hard in a way that is enjoyable for me, get stuck in and say yes to every opportunity on placement and lastly, maintain the thought that I will be a good doctor.

'I hope this has been at least a little helpful to someone, and good luck in your future endeavours!'

Third year student, University of Leicester

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Working hard now, learning and picking up tips from FY1 doctors will help me enormously.

'Looking back over the last year of medical school I am really proud of what I have achieved. At my medical school, we sit our final written papers in fourth year, and this is well known among medics to be one of the biggest hurdles we face. I was very happy to even pass these exams, but I surprised myself by doing better than I had ever achieved before.

'I think the key for me was that I prepared early. However despite my previous success I failed to listen to my own advice when it came to the SJT by leaving my revision until relatively late. This left me trying to cram in practice papers and reading and re-reading through Good medical practice in the week leading up to the exam. SJT is one of the more tricky exams to 'revise' for, but you can definitely do bits here and there to get you in the right frame of mind. So if I had any advice for others or to myself, if I could go back it would be to start early and be prepared.

'Looking forward, what I most want to achieve over the next year is to be a good doctor. I still have a few barriers to get past to reach that target, such as the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) and my final OSCEs, however I feel like the end goal of graduation is now in sight. It was a sudden and scary realisation just a few weeks ago when I first allowed myself to think, in under a year's time I will be finally starting work and taking on responsibility as an FY1 doctor. It was a very exciting moment but it also filled me with a little bit of fear.

'As of that moment I have been telling myself how working hard now, learning and picking up tips from other FY1 doctors will help me enormously when I reach that stage. I am trying to fully immerse myself with ward life, doing the same jobs as the FY1 doctors, with their supervision, so that when it comes to doing it alone for real it won't seem quite so scary.

'We are lucky at Keele to have a very hands-on approach to fifth year, with it being regarded as an 'assistantship' year. This means we are given great opportunities to get involved in ward jobs or within the GP practice to which we are assigned. This means that I have every chance of fulfilling my personal goal of being ready to become a doctor when – hopefully – the day arrives.'

Emily Robins, final year student, Keele University


This article was correct at publication on 10/01/2018. It 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.