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10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me - Education - Nairaland

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10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by TONYE001(m): 9:00am On Jun 20, 2023

In this post, I'd be sharing ten (10) lessons I picked from medical school. I do hope that this post benefits someone somewhere.

1. Our Abilities are Stretchable.
Many years ago as a student of Human Physiology, I used to wonder how medical students can read large volumes of information and recall the same in their exams. In Physiology, we ran a semester system where we studied selected body systems, and our exams are limited to that system. For example, in Year 2 first semester, we studied Blood and Body Fluid Physiology; our exam was limited to this system, and after the semester, we'd not be required to recall the information about this system in any other exam. In the worst-case scenario, we may need to APPLY the lessons learnt in the previous semesters.

The situation in medical school is different. In the Year 3 professional examination, candidates are required to recall ALL they have been taught in their first two years in medschool. Candidates must remember all they have learnt in Human Anatomy (including genetics in some centres), Human Physiology, and Medical Biochemistry. In the Path-Pharm medical board examination, candidates must recall all they've learnt in Pathology (Medical Microbiology, Haematology, Histopathology, and Chemical Pathology) and Pharmacology. Actually, this is enormous, and I want to believe that some people may be wondering how this is possible, just like I had once wondered.

Well, I now know. The answer is that the human mind is stretchable. Once there is a need to do a particular thing, the mind contorts itself in its preparation to achieve the given goal. There is absolutely nothing special about this. It's an ability EVERY mind has, with a little perseverance and discipline here and there, anyone can achieve this. The reason it seemed impossible/difficult then was because I didn't need to recall everything in a given exam; if I had had such a need, I too would have weathered the storm, all things being equal.

2. Medical Students need a Good Support System

Well, every student needs a good support system. But in medschool, this is particularly important. Your support system may be your parents, siblings, friends, roommates, spouse, etc. In medschool, there are some very low moments. Examples include a poor exam outcome, having to repeat an entire year, cashlessness, etc. I remember when I had to resit Anatomy in my first professional medical board exams. It was a crazy moment as I had never expected this blow. I remember getting on a night bus the same day I saw the result. I went home to spend some time with my family. My wife was very instrumental in my healing process. My wife was (is) my support system, and she did a pretty great job. I got back to school, retook the exam, passed, and joined my colleagues in the hospital.

As you prepare to go into medschool, it will be wise to begin to organize/identify your support system. This is one reason you must scrutinize anyone that wants access to your life. Your circle must be made of reliable people you can turn to for advice, encouragement, etc.

3. Hard Work and Smart Work are both Necessary.
People tend to subscribe to philosophies that substitute hard work for smart work. This is fast becoming generally accepted, but I don't completely agree with this. In my opinion, both are necessary and important. There are times one needs to work hard, and there are other times one must work smart.

I employed these two concepts in medschool. I did hard work during the session. I ensured I read and had a good grasp of the things I should know. I like understanding concepts, not just holding on to outputs. Let me explain; instead of knowing that excessive thirst is a symptom of diabetes mellitus, I prefer knowing HOW diabetes mellitus can make patients excessively thirsty. These concepts and pathology mechanisms help me work things out if/when I forget the details. In exam periods (like the MB exams), I employ smart work. To me, this isn't the time for hard work. I study the patterns of questions, I look at common diseases in a given subspecialty, and I study the body languages of our lecturers. This worked for me most of the time, in times that it didn't work, I fall back to the mechanisms I had grasped and navigate my way through the exam.

For example, let us consider a candidate preparing to take an assessment on the gross anatomy of the upper extremities. Hard work for this candidate will be ensuring he/she reads everything about the upper limbs. This should be done long before the exams. As the exam approach, this candidate will be smart if he ensures he internalizes things like the brachial plexus, course, and distribution of major arteries and nerves (axillary artery, median nerve, etc). This candidate will also be smart if he goes through previous questions; not just memorizing them but understanding their patterns.

4. You can do Extra-Curricular Activities in Medschool and Still be Successful

I've met some medstudents that lived a triangular life. They go to class, then fellowships, and to night class. They hardly are involved in anything outside of academic work. This isn't bad, especially if this is what they want. But if you believe this is the only way to go through the training successfully, then you are grossly misinformed.

Life is beyond medicine, really. You can enjoy other activities in life and still be a very successful medical student. For example, you can be involved in politics, entertainment, freelancing, etc. I've been freelancing for over three years now. While preparing for my final MB exams, I got a series of jobs; I needed the cash so I took all the jobs that came my way. Sometimes, while my colleagues read through the night, I was writing papers for clients.

The only way to successfully achieve this is to ensure you work hard whenever you have the time. The harder you work, the more free time you create for yourself in the future. I was able to spare some nights for freelancing in the heat of my final professional exam (the most important of all exams written in medschool) because I had worked hard long before this time. I think this is straightforward and does not need further explanations.

5. Anything is Possible.

In life, anything is possible. I believe anyone can achieve any dream in the right circumstances. I don't think becoming a medical doctor is reserved for a particular group of people. In fact, in some Western societies, anyone can study medicine irrespective of their background.

Some dreams may take a while, but you can still achieve them. I'm a medical doctor today, this was a dream I first chased 17 years ago. But I did not fold my hands hoping to get into medschool all these years. In these 17 years, I got two degrees (a bachelor's and a master's degree), I served my fatherland (NYSC), I started a career (which I later dropped to return to school), I got married, and we have four wonderful children. I'm very grateful that I've been able to achieve this today. The wound has suddenly healed. The pains are gone. I now feel fulfilled. I now feel satisfied. I'm now ready for the next challenge life has got for me.

So, some of you may have tried several times to get into medschool. This is a common finding. While I urge you to continue trying, I'd advise you to ensure you get your lives going. Don't join the medicine-or-nothing gang, I don't think there's much sense in that. I know some people that spent years looking for medicine, they paused their lives in all these years. All they did was to write UTME, read for the next UTME, and the cycle repeats. Some of them fail out of medschool after getting in. Guess what? They fall to nothing. They fall back to stage 1. Time, effort, finances, and opportunities lost. Again, perhaps, you should realize that retaking an exam without assessing why you failed it in the first instance is analogous to repeating failure as you'd likely fail in your subsequent trials. Ensure you take out time to analyze why you failed an exam before retrying.

6. Be a Good Support System to Others.

I earlier mentioned that in medschool, you need the right support system. This is absolutely true. But, don't be greedy. Also, ensure you're a good support system to others. In life, we take to give (we don't necessarily give to take though). Life is a closed system where things go around. We all have materials another person needs to climb to his/her next level. If we refuse to share or reach out, we'd be hampering the progress of that person. Reaching out to others, and helping where and when needed WITHOUT expecting anything in return should be basic human thinking. In life, we take to give, we don't take to keep.

If you're a medical student reading this, please, as much as possible, ensure you are present in all the meetings you're expected to participate in. Attend classes, practical sessions, go to your clinics, ward rounds, theatres, emergency call duties, etc. Just show up.
Some of the questions in my Paediatrics exam were about cases we managed in the Emergency Paediatric Unit (EPU) of our facility. If I hadn't gone to call the times these cases were managed, I may not have answered those questions satisfactorily. You may not have the chance to read some of these things in the books. Seeing these cases being managed will usually stick to your memory, and you never can tell when you'd need this information.

Also, for those that understand what "ophthalmology" is in medschool, you'd agree with me that showing up is very important.

8. Malaria Prophylaxis

In our environment, taking malaria prophylaxis is part of prepping for your exams. Some of my colleagues came down with malaria while we prepared for our final MB exams, and this wasn't funny. Ensure you protect yourself from malaria, use insecticide-treated mosquito nets, clean your environment, don't unnecessarily expose yourselves, and take prophylaxis before any major exam.

9. Be in Good Standing with your Lecturers and be Humble, Respectful, and Teachable.

Do I need to emphasize this?

10. GOD!!!

This may be the last, but it's the most important. I'm a Christian, and I believe in the power of God Almighty. It is God that made it possible for me to come this far. It is God that will keep me. It is God that will ensure I go farther than this.

Throughout my training, my trust was in Jehovah, my Creator. I knew He didn't bring me this far to abandon me. I knew He would see me through, and He did. I still trust in Him, and with this trust, I know I'd make further progress in life.

Turn to God, guys, not because you want success, but because it is the right thing to do.


Going through medical school is a serious business. It's one of the most stressful endeavours in education. I once argued that it is more difficult to stay in than to get in. But guess what? IT IS POSSIBLE. You just need to properly plan your game before you come in. Many people think all they need to do is to prepare for WASSCE and UTME, write and smash these exams. Na, preparing for medschool is beyond this. You must make plans for finances, you must develop your strategy, and you must establish a support system.

I honestly hope this post will provide more insight into medical school in Nigeria.

Thank you.

173 Likes 27 Shares

Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by Angel55555(m): 11:34am On Jun 20, 2023
Impressive 👏


Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by BucketMan: 11:34am On Jun 20, 2023
It's similar to what is obtainable in Law School, we had several people fainting in the hall during the Bar Final Exams... Bottom line is to be a Big Man is not easy.

27 Likes 4 Shares

Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by slawomir: 11:35am On Jun 20, 2023
Damnnn niggar
Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by VeryWickedMan: 11:35am On Jun 20, 2023
Medical school taught me that inserting my preeq can wake a coma patient.

I can never forget that day.
We both screamed.

23 Likes 3 Shares

Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by sslcrypt: 11:35am On Jun 20, 2023
Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by AmigoDeDon(m): 11:35am On Jun 20, 2023
Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by ybalogs(m): 11:36am On Jun 20, 2023
Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by Moutine(m): 11:36am On Jun 20, 2023

1 Like 1 Share

Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by StemCellTherapi(m): 11:36am On Jun 20, 2023
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2 Likes 1 Share

Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by EXLOVER(m): 11:36am On Jun 20, 2023
Na them chop scholarship money pass

1 Like

Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by ghettowriter(m): 11:36am On Jun 20, 2023
True true studying medicine and its related courses is not easy


Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by omikel(m): 11:36am On Jun 20, 2023
Nice write-up


Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by Strangebuttrue(m): 11:36am On Jun 20, 2023
I don't think the house of reps need to sign this?
Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by alphaconde(m): 11:37am On Jun 20, 2023
The greatest men the world has had didn't use up to 50% of their capabilities.

There's nowhere your mind cannot take u.

17 Likes 1 Share

Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by ybalogs(m): 11:37am On Jun 20, 2023
Very beautiful and insightful write up. I'm sure it will help those planning to venture into Medschool greatly. Thanks for sharing.

4 Likes 1 Share

Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by CandidAdmin(m): 11:38am On Jun 20, 2023
Medical courses can be very tough. E no easy

Food for thought - Very soon you all will be replaced by robots.

Check my siggy!
Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by Gppgn(f): 11:39am On Jun 20, 2023
Oga all courses are like that... music hard pass medical school self


Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by Draslo(m): 11:39am On Jun 20, 2023
Thanks for reassuring me I can still chase some of my dreams even though they're not inclined with the medicine field. Thanks OP

1 Like

Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by hafeeanubasy: 11:40am On Jun 20, 2023
I respect people like you alot.
You guys are inspirations for me!


Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by BigBlackPreek(m): 11:40am On Jun 20, 2023
Nice one
Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by Akwamkpuruamu: 11:42am On Jun 20, 2023
Medical sciences is not for the average Joe on the street


Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by Adewale1603(m): 11:42am On Jun 20, 2023
Medical school taught me that inserting my preeq can wake a coma patient.

I can never forget that day.
We both screamed.
be serious with your life for once


Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by timiade446(m): 11:42am On Jun 20, 2023

Keep it up Doc

Canva pro for sale

Just 500
Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by oluwaseunayor: 11:43am On Jun 20, 2023
Well said.
The support system is the main thing.
Thanks to all who have been so much supportive.
The journey isn't easy at all.
Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by playapayaski: 11:50am On Jun 20, 2023
It's too wide n tideous.. especially anatomy n physiology.
Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by EncephalonPikin(m): 11:53am On Jun 20, 2023
Amazing writeup, I love your diary as well. I just want to say you’ve been a great inspiration to me on this journey


Re: 10 Lessons Medical School Taught Me by VeryWickedMan: 11:56am On Jun 20, 2023
be serious with your life for once

I will henceforth.

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