January 25, 2020
Life As A UofT Medical Student
Behind The Scenes
A lot of the learning is in the classroom, with some dissection labs, some small group discussions (PBL, or Problem Based Learning), and one clinical day dispersed throughout the week. The first year is definitely more content heavy with less free time than the second year.
After morning lectures, I’d make notes and study them in the evening while they were still fresh on my mind. I really had to get organized and stick to a study schedule to keep on track. In undergrad, I could slack off a bit if I wasn’t feeling well or if I just wanted to veg out for a weekend, but I had to kick that habit during first year.
Second year was both easier in some respects and harder in others. If you just looked at your timetable, it seemed like you had a lot more free time and less in-class lectures. However, a lot of the “free time” was meant for you to be working on community projects and research, so just how much free time you actually had depended on how organized and on-task you stayed. It’s very easy to slack off when you feel like there’s nothing on your calendar to do. But the good news is that this also meant you had more leeway in scheduling when you wanted to do things, since large projects wouldn’t be due until the end of the year. For instance, I didn’t have any travel plans over the March break, so I was able to finish my research project during the break and didn’t have to worry about rushing in May when it was due.
In Medical School
Despite the tough course load, there’s much more to life than just lectures and there are plenty of great opportunities to get involved in extracurriculars. I was part of the a capella group at MAM (Mississauga Academy of Medicine) and it was a great way to de-stress from all the work. Before medical school, getting regular exercise at home, outside, or in the gym was never a high priority for me, but I find that it’s now crucial to keep my mood up – must be something about all that blood flow to the brain! For me, if I only focused on school work, my motivation drained very quickly. In the short run it may seem like you can keep studying for days on end (after all, that’s how we got into med school!), but keeping everything balanced – work, friends, exercise, rest – may work out even better in the long run.
How To Ace The MPI Medical School Interview
- First-year is heavy. Unless you’re coming in with a medical background already, plan to spend most (read: almost all) of your time studying.
- Try to study what you’ve learned right after you’ve learned it. Everyone’s brain works a bit differently, but I’ve found this works best for me. If I’ve taken short notes during lecture, I can still decipher them and elaborate on them a few hours later. At the end of the week, I usually have no clue what my scribbles mean.
- Second-year has a deceptively lighter course-load. Don’t let it fool you. If you stay organized, you can finish assignments way before they’re due, giving you more time to study for the final exams. If you slack off during your “free time,” you’ll be scrambling in May.
- Second-year is also a great year to get more involved in extracurriculars, since your schedule is more flexible. Do something you love or are curious about, not just something that’ll look good on a resume.
- If you notice your mood is low, and you don’t get much exercise, try exercising more. If your mood is really low, don’t be afraid to talk to one of the school counsellors – they’re all there to
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