Don’t be scared to be wrong, and try to actively engage in lectures – it really helps you learn! One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome going into medicine was being too shy to speak up in lectures or in class. After I overcame the fear of saying something ‘wrong’ in class or asking ‘dumb’ questions, I started more actively engaging in lectures. While I have definitely called out many embarrassingly incorrect answers during lectures (which I hope no one remembers except the lecture recordings!), I was able to learn content so much easier.
Ask questions, reach out to your colleagues and lecturers, and participate, not only in lectures, but in placements, too. I enjoyed my one-week health elective placement at the end of first year with Dr Kurinji Kannan in urogynaecology at the Mater Hospital. I was able to scrub into, and assist minorly in some surgical procedures, I was taught how to catheterise, and the lovely intern taught me some clinical skills such as charting medications. It was amazing. Basically, the more mistakes you make the first time, the better you learn in the future, but participation really is key!
Work with other students because medicine can’t be done alone. Finding a good study group and effective and fun ways of studying are among the best things you can do for yourself from first year.
I love how JCU staff really encourage us to work together with other students. Teaching others is one of the best ways to learn, and you always have so much fun. For example, my friends and I love the ‘under 15 minutes’. We take turns teaching weeks of content to each other under 15 minutes on a whiteboard. Anatomy sessions were my favourite, and we familiarised ourselves with content beforehand so we could go into the lab and ‘pop quiz’ each other.
I love creating slightly inappropriate mnemonics, making ANKI flashcards or inventing ‘anatomy charades’ games to help us better remember content. I think the biggest misconception of medicine is that it’s ‘not fun’ because it’s a lot of work. The amount of fun you can have while studying makes time fly by.