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Is Medical School Fun? (Students Share Their Experiences)

Is Medical School Fun? (Students Share Their Experiences)

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

Before going to university, I’d heard so much about how difficult studying medicine can be I really wasn’t sure whether medical school was going to be any fun or not!

If you spend all your time as a medical student studying, do you have any time left for fun?

The majority of medical students very much enjoy their time at medical school. 44% of students from a recent survey rated their medical school experience as either ‘moderately’ or ‘extremely fun.’ However, the workload, exams and long hours can result in some students having a negative experience.

Being able to look back at my time at medical school now I can say it was a truly incredible experience.

Did I enjoy every second of it? Absolutely not.

There were ups and there were downs, but on the whole I can vouch that medical school can be incredible fun despite everything you might hear.

In this article, I want to delve into a bit more detail about why most people enjoy their medical school experience, why some people can really hate it, and whether you’ll have time for a social life as a medical student.

Can You Have Fun As A Medical Student?

Although I enjoyed my time at medical school, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t an anomaly. I sent out a survey to 218 medical students to find out if they agreed with me. Here are the results:

How Students Rated Medical SchoolPercentage of Respondents
Extremely fun12%
Moderately fun32%
Not enjoyable16%
Hate it11%
How fun medical students rated their time at university

As you can see then, the most popular option was ‘moderately fun,’ with only 27% of people not enjoying their time at university.

I’ve got to say, I do think these figures would be slightly different if it weren’t for COVID-19. Having to isolate at home is bad at the best of times, but if you’re a new student who doesn’t know anyone else it’s really going to negatively affect your university experience if nearly the whole of your first two years are carried out virtually.

Even so, the response was on the whole positive so I’m confident in saying I wasn’t a complete outlier in really enjoying my time as a medical student!

“It’s fun at times! It’s a lot of work but I always enjoy just having chats with patients, and it’s really enjoyable to assist in clerking and management plans as you get into later years.”

Fifth year medical student

Studying medicine at university offers a unique blend of theoretical and practical learning, and you still have plenty of free time outside of lectures or placements to enjoy the full student experience.

Compared to a subject like law, where lots of the work is just trudging through long transcripts of case law, I think there’s something intrinsically fascinating about understanding how the human body works and how we can fix it when it goes wrong.

I won’t deny I’ve fallen asleep in countless embryology lectures (I found the subject insanely complicated and incredibly dry), so I’m not saying you’ll be on the edge of your seat for every lecture, but I do think the act of learning medicine can be enjoyable in itself.

Do Medical Students Have A Social Life?

A big part of the whole university experience for many people is that of the social side of being a student.

So with all their lectures, exams, clinics and placements, do medical students have time for a social life?

Medical students are able to maintain an active social life despite the demands medical school can put on their time. Medical students are often some of the most socially active students at university, with medical student societies organising a range of events throughout the social calendar.

I’m sure you heard the phrase ‘work hard, play hard’ and I think it’s somewhat apt when it comes to medical students.

Students partying in the Students’ Union club

Although you will be putting in the blood, sweat and tears on your course, there’s still plenty of time to blow off some steam at the SU or to go clubbing with your flatmates.

“I’m enjoying myself at uni but there’s a separation between medical school and uni that’s important to make.”

Third year medical student

Although medical students will generally have more contact hours than their non-medic friends, the reality is that being a full-time student, even with any reading you need to do outside of class, is hardly equivalent to being a banker working 80 hours a week in the city.

You still have plenty of time to pursue sports, hobbies and to socialise.

Now to be fair, things do get more intense in fourth and fifth year. But the way I always viewed it was at this stage my non-medic friends had graduated and were starting full-time jobs in the world of real work. They wouldn’t expect to be able to go out clubbing on a Wednesday night so neither should I.

For your first three years as a medical student, your social life won’t be held back by your course. As long as you can deal with a couple of intense months around exam season, you’ll be free to socialise to your heart’s content.

How Can You Have Fun While In Medical School?

If you’re on the road to medical school you may have started thinking about how you can get the most from your experience and how you can have fun while there!

While in medical school, students can have fun by joining a sports team, getting involved with one of the many student societies or socialising with friends at local bars or the Students’ Union. Medical schools also frequently have their own sports teams and societies only open to medical students.

It really isn’t difficult to have fun at medical school as there’s so much on offer! Sometimes you do just need to know where to look.

Every year at university there’ll be a freshers’ fair where all the different sports teams and societies try and recruit new members from the host of new students who’ve just turned up.

I can’t recommend enough that you join either a sports team, society, or multiple of each! Even if it’s something you’ve never done before. One of my friends signed up to the ultimate frisbee team as she thought it would be a laugh and now she’s genuinely in the England ultimate frisbee squad!

One of my biggest regrets from university is not joining the mountaineering society earlier. I joined in fourth year, and absolutely loved all the different hiking and climbing trips they ran, so can’t help but wish I’d been a member from day one.

Because medical school does ramp up towards the end of the course, which can make attending regular training sessions difficult, a lot of medical schools also run their own sports teams. So you could be a member of the university rugby team or you could just play for the medics rugby team.

The medics teams generally train more infrequently, at times that suit the most people, so that students can still participate even if they’re on placement from 9-5 or have exams to revise for.

Even if it isn’t through organised activity, university is just a massive melting pot of intelligent, motivated young people so you’ll be sure to meet a tonne of interesting people who you really won’t struggle to have fun with- even if it’s just over a cup of coffee.

Are Medical Students Lonely?

Medicine has been described as one of the loneliest professions, but does this mean that medical students are lonely?

Medical students can end up feeling lonely and somewhat isolated as a result of the longer course length and increased number of hours they have to dedicate to studying compared to students on other courses. It’s for these reasons that medical students often choose to socialise together.

Medical students are always set slightly apart from the rest of the student body. Their course is two years longer than a normal degree, they’re in lectures more than nearly any other student and revising for medical exams can mean every spare moment has to be spent in the library.

It’s not much fun if everyone else is going for a night out and you’ve got to stay in revising because you’ve got a big test coming up.

A medical student studying on their own

It’s for this reason that I actually always chose to live with other medics while at university. That way I knew we’d all be in the same boat, needing to revise for the same exams at the same time.

I knew I’d find it far easier to focus if everyone else in the house was also working. So I wouldn’t be tempted to put studying off and just go party with everyone else!

I do remember it also being somewhat jarring when the majority of my non-medic friends left after three years (as they graduated) and I was left with a whole two years still to go.

It’s all these different factors that can undoubtedly add up to someone feeling lonely.

I think while having non-medic friends is the antidote to becoming too insular, it’s essential to have a solid network of friends on your course as well.

The clichΓ© is that medical students are incredibly cliquey- and it is somewhat true. But in some ways, you have to be because other medical students are the only ones who will be at university with you for the whole time and actually understand the pressure you’re under when it comes to the big exams.

It’s only by having that support network of friends who are sharing the same experiences as you are that you can avoid feeling isolated as the only medic in your social circle.

Don’t just have medics for friends, but make sure you’ve got some friends who are medics.

Final Thoughts

I’m confident that if you go to medical school you’ll have an absolutely fantastic time.

Now that’s not the same as saying you’ll enjoy every minute of every day (as the exams really do suck), but in a blink of an eye you’ll be in the same position as me and looking back on your time as a medical student incredibly fondly.

Although being a medical student is harder work than being any other kind of student, with a bit of self-discipline and organisation there’s no reason that this extra workload should have any negative impact on your student experience at all.

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.