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  • 19 February 2019
  • 7 min read

How to stay motivated in Medical School

  • Ollie Burton
    Post-graduate Medical Student

Here are some tips for how to stay motivated in medical school, which have been tried and tested by Ollie himself. Ollie has been studying for 5 years, so it's safe to say he has a wealth of experience when it comes to finding motivation!

Play video: Ollie shares his tips on staying motivated in medical school!

Hi guys, Ollie here and welcome back to the channel.

Once again I'm very happy to bring you this video today in association with Healthjobs.co.uk, helping you find the health career you want.

As I'm sure you know medical school is one of the longest courses that it's possible to do at University, and because of that duration there's going to be plenty of ups and downs during that time.

I'm now in my fifth year of university education since leaving school, having done my a-levels and I've been through a lot of personal changes in development and challenges during that time.

To be honest I think one of the things that makes this course difficult rather than the academics is simply the endurance that you need to make it to the end, so in this video I want to talk to you about some of the ways that will help you stay motivated to pursue that dream and reach the end of med school.

Keep a diary

So the first one is to keep a diary.

As many of you know I keep a blog as often as I can over a Postgradmedic.com - this has been a really cathartic way of kind of getting everything down on paper or at least on a digital surface and I really enjoy looking back through it when I get the chance.

It started as an everyday thing, eventually that became just too much to keep up every day as the demands of the course got more and more but I still keep it often enough such that I can track my progress kind of through the months of the course.

What's interesting to look back on are the things that I found particularly challenging, because it's a Grad Entry Program we cover an enormous amount of material over very short time periods and it's really motivating to go back through and see how far we've progressed even in a short time.

Go to medical conferences

The second thing is going to conferences if you get the chance.

I started going to meetings and conferences and similar events in the first year of med school and while they're not compulsory at all they are a fantastic way to be exposed to new ideas and new ways of tackling problems that you'll come across.

I've attended meetings that cover a wide range of specialities and interests, and not only do they help you try and work out you might want to do in the future, you'll also just meet loads of like-minded people who are really passionate about the things they're doing.

The workshops are also a fantastic chance to improve your skills be in things like surgery, like suturing, you can do trauma or emergency management.

These are skills that you can actually use and take back to your hospital, not to mention you'll usually get a certificate of attendance - which always looks great to pad out the portfolio!

Play video: Ollie tells us how to manage time effectively at medical school!

Consult in your mentor

Number three is finding a mentor.

Finding a mentor, or multiple mentors if you're lucky, to kind of take you under their wing and show you the ropes is a really really good way of making sure that you stay motivated.

If you find someone who actively wants to teach you that means you have a role model or at least another role model in your life that's medical and you actually want to emulate, it pushes you to be better.

In my case that's been doctors, nurses, social workers, other members of the healthcare team - who just actually want me to do well and then because I want to impress them and kind of stay in their good books it means I go away do the reading come back and I'm better than I was before.

I'm still always making progress because you're both engaged with one another, you really get out what you put in and because it's such a close two-way system the learning opportunities just become better and better and better the more you put in.

Find a special interest

The fourth element is to develop a special interest as early as you can.

This was actually recommended to me by a surgeon I met at a conference who said that I should try and learn all the basics I’m meant to know but I should also develop a speciality interest in a particular area, be anatomy or physiology, for two reasons.

The first is that I will then know more than most of my peers in that particular area which is really good for networking but also that when it comes to the final exams that should give me a kind of area of knowledge where I should get the questions much more easily because I've done much more reading.

As well as obviously setting you up for a speciality that you might want to do long term, if you can demonstrate that you've held interest for a long while you're gonna stand out in interviews.

Personally I find this behaviour really valuable because it just gives you a direction in which to follow, and it takes away all the guesswork.

Instead of floundering about not knowing where to push my efforts I can just think, right say I want to be a cardiologist there is a series of things I can do to start exploring cardiology.

I can join the cardiology Society, I can start going to some conferences, I should get some shadowing with a cardiologist and write down what I see.

So even if you're just exploring a new area of interest try and do it in a structured way because it does set you up with a long-term goal and having a direction means you're much more likely to stick to things and stay on track.

Have a hobby outside of medical school

And the last point is do something non-medical.

Have somewhere to go when everything becomes a bit too all-consuming.

I've been on thirteen hour shifts for the last few days as of when this video is being recorded and I can tell you that when I come through the door and crash out the last thing I want to do is hit the books and learn about more medicine.

Sometimes it's just too much.

Even if it's just something like hanging out with my friends or lounging with my housemates and watching TV, or reading a book, having a mess around on my guitar; I know for myself that having a safe place where I can just rewind, recharge my batteries and get my head clear has been really really important for making it through the course.

So far knowing how to make time for yourself and switch off like that is going to be a crucial skill for when we all hopefully become doctors in the future so why not get a head start now!

Just generally try and be mindful of yourself and how you are doing. I think we often get very involved and we lose track of our own well-being in the midst of all that, so just taking a step back, stopping to smell the flowers and making sure that we're looking after ourselves first.

If you want to find out how you can juggle your personal time with medical school, then read this blog on time management tips for medical school.

So thanks very much for watching guys!

Please be sure to hit that like button for me, leave a comment subscribe don't forget to go and check out Postgradmedic.com for more videos just like this.

As well as my daily blog of med school you can find me on social media @postgradmedic.

Thank you again to Healthjobs.co.uk for sponsoring this video - make sure you go and check out their website too!

Take care and I'll see you next time. 

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About the author

  • Ollie Burton
    Post-graduate Medical Student

I'm a graduate-entry level medical student, studying at Warwick Medical School. Alongside studying to become a doctor, I upload vlogs to my YouTube channel, PostGradMedic, about my studies to help anyone else who is studying at med school or studying any other healthcare related course.

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  • Ollie Burton
    Post-graduate Medical Student

About the author

  • Ollie Burton
    Post-graduate Medical Student

I'm a graduate-entry level medical student, studying at Warwick Medical School. Alongside studying to become a doctor, I upload vlogs to my YouTube channel, PostGradMedic, about my studies to help anyone else who is studying at med school or studying any other healthcare related course.