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“Oh sorry, I’m just a med student…”

Medical students are widely regarded as a different species. The stereotypes - cut throat, super intelligent, socially privileged, work hard and party harder - go before us and make many medics (especially those more senior) reluctant to declare their role. Of course, all of us are hugely privileged to be in this position, but it can be a lonely and difficult place to be.

The traditional medical student typically came from a long line of doctors - white, male, privately educated. Today, we are a more diverse group; in fact 57% of new medical students last year were female1. However, for lots of medics, the burden of stereotypes weighs heavily on their shoulders. Many feel like they need to overdo their appreciation of allied health professionals to make up for the arrogance of doctors they’ve never met. We apologise for being in the way despite being timetabled to be present, and fear a faux pas when interacting with non-medical staff.

As loneliness is a more recognised problem in society, it would be wrong not to mention it as a big part of the placement routine for many medics. The emotional burden of placements can be huge. Navigating unknown areas to find departments or organisations, the daily need to introduce yourself and be positive and make a good first impression… it’s exhausting. While we can look forward to rewarding careers working in wonderful teams, placement life can be much less glamorous and very lonely.

Other students in healthcare and vocational training programmes have difficulties too. Student nurses are expected to balance working and learning to a greater degree, and many other disciplines will battle stereotypes on a daily basis. While student nurses may seem blessed with the opportunity to get to know their ward team, a placement in an area they doesn’t like or with a mentor they don’t get along with could ruin a semester. We all have our battles.

The old mantra of ‘I did it so you can do it’ isn’t good enough any more. The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund has launched their #MedStudentsMatter campaign2, and this is a huge step. With signposting and access to financial aid, as well as encouraging discussion about good mental health and considering support we may need, it's wonderful to see our future colleagues recognising how hard it can be. Check out the campaign at


1. Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2016/17 - Subjects studied | HESA [Internet]. [cited 2018 Dec 8]. Available from:

2. Royal Medical Benevolent Fund [Internet]. Royal Medical Benevolent Fund. [cited 2018 Dec 8]. Available from:


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Guest Blog: Jess Leighton, 08.12.2018


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