The summer has flown by once again, winter has already started to set upon us with rain every day, and everyone is desperate to get their new student loan – It can only be the start of a new academic year.

While the new year is always exciting, it is inevitably daunting at the same time.  The next academic year has new challenges and milestones to breach. It can often seem like a big mountain to climb again, but if you have the right attitude at the start of the year, you can really get to grips with the work load early on.

Here are a few things to help each of the years get through the start of term:

First year

The rule of 3’s: join everything, ask a million questions and don’t be afraid to be keen. Year one is always a very exciting time, your moving away from home, starting the degree you always wanted to do, and meeting lots and LOTS of new people. While your mind will obviously be on other things than work, it is important that you stay on top with what you’re doing. The more societies you join, the more events you go to, and the more questions you ask, the more in the loop you will become. Don’t be afraid to ask older peers questions and advice on what to look at and what to ignore. As Peninsula student, you will become used to having to grasp things yourself, my main advice would be to become familiar with as many medical words as possible – the whole of your first year will be like learning a different language.

Second year

Okay, so you’ve just finished your first year at medical school, and what have you learned? That there’s an almost infinite amount to learn and you don’t think you know any of it! It may seem daunting at first, but in second year your knowledge grows and grows. As you go through case studies looking at interesting clinical topics and pathology, it may seem tempting to learn as many clinical topics as possible and really boost your AMK score. While that is good, don’t slack on the anatomy and physiology!! While it may take a lot longer to study a topic when you do it properly with a whole load of A&P first, it will make a big different later on in the course – And hey, if you are worried about the AMK, then why don’t you attend all the lectures we have lined up for you this year!

Third year

Year 3 – this really is the beginning of the end – you have finally got through all those hungover pre-clinical lectures and you're desperate to start doing some “real” medicine in the hospital. This is what you applied for, this is why you want to do medicine. However, while everyone is excited you might also be feeling nervous, anxious, scared – DONT WORRY! Every students is absolutely bricking there first experiences on the wards, worried about making a fool out of themselves or doing something wrong. It's okay to feel like this, and before you know it you’ll be used to the hospital environment and won’t be able to understand why you were scared.

My advice:

While your first few weeks will be spent being constantly tired, wondering why the hell every surgical placement starts at 8am, you need to get into a good habit of working, even after placement. This doesn’t mean endless studying each night until 2am and living off 4 hours sleep – it just means doing a few hours reading around the subject, reading up on pathology you saw in the clinic, and of course going back over your anatomy and physiology. If you get in a good habit from the beginning you will be thankful later on. My other piece of advice – be REALLY keen. The more timetabled sessions you go to, the more ward rounds to take part in, and the more patients you see – the better you will become and the more you will know. This doesn’t mean charging round the hospital from 6am – 11pm – it just means using your time carefully!

Fourth year

Well, myself being a year 4 and not yet experiencing its pleasure, I can only go on rumours. Since day 1 of medical school we hear the rumours about how the 4th years work their socks off, how they are relentlessly working, and how it’s the “hardest” year at peninsula. Well rumours may be rumours, but in this case they are made with some truth. We all know we’re going to have to pull up our game a little bit to get the grades we want this year and ultimately pass and enter “the gift that is fifth year”, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun along the way. Fourth year is definitely going to be one of those years where the more you put in the more you’ll get out and vice versa. With that, I’ll leave you with a little quote you should remember!

“Piss Poor Planning leads to Piss Poor Performance!”