7 Tips To Prepare For Medical School (After You’ve Been Accepted)

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.

If you’re lucky enough to have secured a place at medical school for this coming year, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your time at university before you arrive.

Beginning your first year in medical school is a big step to becoming a doctor- so you want to start off on the right foot.

I very clearly remember the nervous energy I had arriving at my first university lecture!

In this article, I’m going to lay out 7 tips to prepare for medical school that I wish I’d known before starting my course.

1. Buy Some Essential Equipment

Before you arrive at medical school, you’ll need to buy some essential equipment.

While the requirements may vary between schools, there are a few items that are universally necessary for any medical student.

Firstly, you will need a stethoscope.

Most medical schools require students to have a stethoscope before starting their program.

I’d recommend you invest in a quality one from the get-go. I started off with a cheaper stethoscope and then only ended up having to upgrade partway through medical school.

Littmann as a brand is almost universally used in hospitals and it’s pretty hard to go wrong with one of their models.

Person holding up a Littmann stethoscope

In addition to a stethoscope, you may also need a lab coat and lab glasses.

These are typically required for work in the dissection room and some clinical rotations. Check with your school to see if they have any specific requirements for these items.

Although not necessarily needed from the start, it’s also a good idea to have your own medical supplies.

This ensures that you have quality equipment and don’t have to rely on borrowing from the school lab. Some bits of equipment you could consider buying include:

  • Blood pressure cuffs
  • Tendon hammer
  • Otoscope

Finally, a good laptop or tablet is a must-have for medical students.

Especially since COVID, universities make a large portion of their teaching available online, including lectures, seminars and workbooks.

Having a reliable device will help you stay organised and on top of your coursework.

2. Don’t Rush To Buy Textbooks

When you’re preparing for medical school, you may be overwhelmed by the number of textbooks and study materials available.

It’s tempting to rush out and buy everything on the recommended reading list, but this can be a costly mistake.

Tips To Prepare For Medical School Pixel Infographic

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you start buying textbooks:

Check The Library

Before you buy any textbooks, it’s always worth checking both the university library and your local library, 

Many libraries have a wide selection of medical textbooks and study materials available for loan.

This can save you a lot of money, especially if you only need the textbook for a short period of time.

Consider E-Books

E-books can be a great option for medical students.

They are often cheaper than printed textbooks, and you can access them from anywhere with an internet connection.

Many e-books also come with interactive features, such as quizzes and flashcards, which can be helpful for studying.

Wait Until You Start Your Course

It’s a good idea to wait until you start your course before buying textbooks.

This will give you a better idea of which textbooks are essential and which ones you can do without.

Your lecturers may also recommend specific textbooks that are more relevant to your course.

Look For Second-Hand Textbooks

Second-hand textbooks can be a great way to save money.

Check online marketplaces, such as eBay and Amazon, for second-hand textbooks. You can also check with your university or college to see if they have a second-hand bookshop.

3. Speak To Some Current Students

One of the best ways to prepare for medical school is to speak with current students. They can give you an idea of what to expect and share their experiences.

Here are some questions you could consider asking:

It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience is different, so take everything with a grain of salt.

However, speaking with current students can give you valuable insight into what medical school is really like.

You can reach out to current students through social media or email, or attend open days where you can meet them in person.

4. Familiarise Yourself With The Curriculum

Before you start your course, I think it’s a useful idea to familiarise yourself with the curriculum.

Medical school is a challenging and demanding experience, and knowing what to expect can help you stay on track and succeed.

The curriculum for medical school typically includes a mix of classroom lectures, lab work, and clinical rotations.

Medical school textbook and stethoscope

You’ll learn about a wide range of topics, from basic sciences like anatomy and physiology to more advanced topics like pharmacology and pathology.

One of the best ways to prepare for medical school is to review the curriculum and make sure you have a solid understanding of the foundational concepts.

This can help you hit the ground running when you start your studies and give you a head start on your classmates.

It could also mean taking a bit of time to brush up on some A-level science topics that you never really fully understood.

By familiarising yourself with the curriculum and understanding what to expect, you can start your medical education off on the right foot and set yourself up for success.

5. Learn How To Cook And Clean

As a medical student, you’ll be busy with studying and attending classes, leaving you with little time to prepare meals.

However, learning how to cook and clean is an essential skill that will benefit you in the long run.

I’ll be the first to admit I was far from a good cook when I started at university…

Here are some tips to help you get started:

Cooking Tips

  • Plan your meals ahead of time: Take some time at the beginning of each week to plan out your meals. This will help you save time and money, and ensure that you’re eating healthily.
  • Keep it simple: You don’t need to be a gourmet chef to prepare delicious meals. Stick to simple recipes that require few ingredients and take less time to prepare.
  • Invest in quality kitchen tools: Having the right tools can make cooking easier and more enjoyable. Consider investing in a good set of knives, pots and pans, and other kitchen gadgets for when you go off to uni.
  • Learn basic cooking techniques: Knowing how to sauté, boil, grill, and bake can help you prepare a variety of meals. Look up tutorials online or take a cooking class to learn these skills.

Cleaning Tips

  • Clean as you go: Don’t wait until the end of the meal to start cleaning up. Wash dishes and utensils as you use them, and wipe down countertops and stovetops as you cook.
  • Develop a cleaning routine: Set aside some time each week to clean your room/flat/kitchen. This will help you maintain a clean and organised space and prevent the buildup of dirt and grime.

Learning how to cook and clean may seem daunting at first, but with practice and patience, you can become a pro in no time.

Not only will these skills benefit you in medical school, but they will also serve you well in your future career as a doctor.

6. Get In Contact With Other New Students

Connecting with other students who are also preparing for medical school can be a great way to gain valuable insights and support. Here are some ways to get in touch with other new students:

  • Join online communities: There are many online communities and forums where aspiring medical students come together to share their experiences and ask questions. Joining these communities can help you connect with other students, learn about their experiences, and get answers to your questions. Some popular ones include The Student Room, Reddit’s premed community, and the Student Doctor Network.
  • Attend medical school open days: Medical school open days are a great way to meet representatives from different medical schools and learn about their programs. You can also meet other aspiring medical students at these events and network with them.
  • Attend medical school interviews: If you are invited to interview at a medical school, take advantage of the opportunity to meet other aspiring medical students. You can ask them about their experiences and how they’re getting ready for university. You may also be able to connect with them on social media or through email after the interview.

7. Enjoy Your Summer

The last (and possibly most important) tip for you before you start medical school is that you should make the most of your summer.

After all, once term starts, you’ll be busy with your studies and may not have much free time. Here are some tips on how to enjoy your summer before starting medical school:

Travel

Travelling is a great way to relax and recharge before starting medical school. You can explore new places, meet new people, and learn about different cultures.

If you can afford it, consider taking a trip abroad. However, if you are on a tight budget, you can still have a great time by exploring your own country or region.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and make a difference in your community. You can volunteer at a hospital, clinic, or charity.

This will give you an opportunity to learn about the healthcare system, meet healthcare professionals, and develop your communication and teamwork skills.

Work

Working is a good way to earn money and gain experience. You can work in a part-time job or an internship.

This will give you an opportunity to learn about the world of work, develop your time management and organisational skills, and gain experience that will be useful in your future career.

Relax

Finally, don’t forget to relax! You will have a busy and demanding schedule once you start medical school, so it’s important to take some time to rest and recharge.

You can spend time with your family and friends, read a book, watch a movie, or do something else that you enjoy.

Final Thoughts

Your time at medical school is likely going to produce memories that you’ll look back on fondly for many years to come.

It truly is an incredible experience- so in many ways, I’m jealous of you getting to start your journey to becoming a doctor from the start.

Hopefully, these tips will help you prepare for your time at medical school now that you’ve received an offer and will let you start your medical career with your best foot forwards.

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.