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Getting ahead in medical school

Do you wanna be the very best, like no one ever was before? We can't help you catch 'em all, but here are some tips to be a stand-out medical student!

Networking, along with indemnity and equity release, is a term I never thought I’d be enough of a grown-up to use. Surely networking is just for businesspeople who carry briefcases? I just assumed that throughout the course of my medical degree, I’d be introduced to everyone I needed to know to get to be a doctor. And that is true. But you may only get what you need.

If you want to carve out your own path as a doctor, why not start as a medical student? Every day of your training is filled with opportunities to do so. There are three main points I want to emphasise based on my experiences of networking:

1. Day to day

One of my favourite things about medical school is the variety. Every day you will be exposed to doctors, nurses and other professionals who are an invaluable link to your future career! I was always really nervous to take up staff time, but I actually found most people are keen to share their experience and will be honest if they are too busy to chat. So take the time to note staff names (I usually jot them down in case I forget) and take an interest in what they do- everyone has something to teach you!

2. Purposeful

For me this is often an extension of number one. Non-timetabled ‘white time’ in clinical years is a great time to go and see something a bit different, be it a specialty you’re interested in or just to get a better idea of what a Speech and Language therapist actually does. I can’t emphasise enough how useful it is to see what allied health professionals do, and I’ve had qualified doctors tell me that they really regret not seeing more of that before their clinical responsibilities kicked in. So don’t be afraid to shoot off an email and ask to visit the pathology labs, sit in on a genetic counselling clinic or shadow an Occupational Therapist! You really have nothing to lose.

3. Unexpected

Many of the most useful relationships I have built have been from chance encounters- attending a lecture that turned out to be fascinating, tagging along on a ward round with a brilliant clinician or simply being introduced to an interesting-sounding colleague in passing. I think these can be amazing opportunities, so I’m a great believer in introducing yourself, taking an interest, and then sending a follow-up email emphasising my enthusiasm. In my experience, many people will offer up opportunities to learn more, and this can be a great springboard.

This might all seem like a huge hassle but its really not- just approach medical school with an open mind and a positive attitude! Stay #Keen smiley

Guest Blog: Jess Leighton, 23.05.2018


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