Dr Harlina's Survival Tips for Medical Students : Tips no. 1 - 50

>> Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dedicated to MEDICAL STUDENTS all over the world - may you survive the challenges ahead.

( By Dr Harlina Halizah Siraj ; ex UKM medic student 1985 – 91)

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 1 - Thank Allah (God) for this golden opportunity. Allow yourself to be trained with the basic medical knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours that are essential for the profession. If you're a caring, responsible, unselfish and emphatic person, half the battle is won. If you're not, it's a long way ahead!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 2 - Do not be afraid to make mistakes now. As students, you learn thro' your mistakes and corrections by your teachers. If you're scolded or criticized for your mistakes, be strong. You could only be hurt or affected as much as you have allowed yourself to be!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 3 - Look forward for your exams, instead of being depressed over them. Two reasons for that; first - exams are TRADEMARK of medical schools (they are here to stay!), secondly - they serve as signboards, telling you how close (or how far) you're to the destiny. Enjoy & cherish them!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 4 - Enhance your passion & hunger for knowledge. You might have your own learning style, but you can always switch your approach from superficial to deep. Learn because you really wanna know, not for simply passing exams (superficial approach)!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 5 - Appreciate the cooperative patients who have agreed to allow you to examine them. Give them their due respect. Despite their pain and misery, they let you `disturb' their rest/sleep. Promise yourself that you will be a competent doctor one day, so all the patients' sacrifice for you would not go wasteful!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 6 - Apply active participation in your learning process. Force yourself to come forward the next time your clinical teacher looks for a volunteer to clerk a patient, perform a physical exam, assist in a procedure or operation. You will be rewarded with a great sense of achievement, much more than your passive friends - even if you gonna get some criticism/ negative feedback at the end.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 7 - Do not procrastinate, submit assignments before deadline. Do not postpone till the very last minute, no matter how tempting it is to delay. Put in your best effort in everything you do. Be exceptional, not just a mediocre!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 8 - Ask questions, clarify any area of doubt. Make it a must to ask your teacher before a teaching session ends. Keep asking - there are no such things as stupid questions - only stupid answers! A lot of active, critical thinking must come before asking...it might be too much for some, eh? No wonder you all are no longer asking these days!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 9 - Never leave God behind in your pursuit to be the men/women of medicine. As healers, we are the INSTRUMENT of God's mercy. Continue your strive to be close to Him, for you will definitely need Him endlessly. It is through your hands, words, eyes and smiles that God is going to cure and care for the sick and fallen. May you deserve such honour!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 10 - Keep in touch with your parents & family. They're your best support. Update them with your progress. Include them into your busy, busy stressed-up life. Share with them your sorrow, but convince them that you'll be fine with their prayers tagged along.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 11 - Try your best to make your teachers feel respected and appreciated. Take what is good from them, whilst forgive them for their shortcomings. Assist your teachers by getting actively involved in teaching learning activities. Make them interactive, lively, fun and enjoyable. Help your teachers, they need you to be on board!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 12 - Strengthen your friendship with peers, seniors & juniors. Don't be a loner. Help one another always. Study in a group, studying alone limits your understanding & perspective. The best way to learn is to teach! So, teach one another - you'll be amazed by the result of such teamwork.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 13 - Spend your holiday/semester break with your family. Visit your grandparents, uncles, aunts & cousins. Let them see the `new, better, matured' future family doctor whom they're so proud of. Impress them with your improved communication & interpersonal skills. Listen attentively to their complaints, groans & moans. Gently remind them, you're not yet licensed to treat...

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 14 - Manage your time wisely. Sleep early and wake up fresh. Do not compromise your sleeping time by spending too much time online. Chronic sleep deprivation will only result in higher level of stress! Stop the vicious cycle, NOW!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 15 - Pluck your courage to greet ALL your teachers when you meet them at the corridors/cafetaria/lifts etc. Don't expect them to remember your name, unless you're really exceptional. They might not be smiling back to you, but your consistent greetings will somewhat make your face familiar to them. At least they realize that you EXIST....and that really matters.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 16 - Train yourself to serve others always. After all, medical profession is about public servitude. Your calling is to go all out to help, assist and facilitate others. Altruism (placing other's interest before one self) is the keystone of medicine. Without it, the whole arch of medicine collapses!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 17 - Overcome your fear, sadness and uncertainties with constant reminder that what you're aiming for is not something ordinary. Training to be a medical doctor pushes you to your limits! Be warned, the sailing is not going to be smooth, it's an uphill climb, a lifelong commitment.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 18 - Learn to be genuinely interested in your patient's life - not simply his/her diseases. Remember this equation : Patient = Person + Disease. While learning how to doctor the disease, never forget to doctor the PERSON, who is made up of body, mind, heart & soul.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 19 - Jump out of the bed with enthusiasm and excitement each morning. Promise yourself that you're going to make full use of the many golden opportunities in front of you. Say your morning prayers consistently, without fail. Look into the mirror and say it out loud : I believe I can be a better person today, better than yesterday, InsyaAllah!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 20 - Be emotionally intelligent. Manage your emotions wisely. Remember, emotion is the window to your thoughts. When you're feeling happy and motivated, you're thinking positive thoughts. When you're feeling down and demoralized, your head is full with negative thoughts. Ask yourself, how much do you want to ALLOW the trigger/stimulus to affect you emotionally...it's your own choice!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 21 - Stop being a perfectionist, for one good reason - no human being can be perfect! Be kind to your self, please. Set an achievable target, strive to overcome challenges and acknowledge your own achievement, no matter how small. Wanting to excel will motivate you, aiming for perfection will only drain you out DRY!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 22 - Focus on your study. Do not allow distractions to interfere with your concentration. Apply deep learning strategy - focus on YOUR own pumping heart when you're studying CVS, on YOUR own thinking brain when you're reading about neurons & synapses! Studying is not supposed to be burdening, it should be liberating, enjoyable and empowering.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 23 - Fight your laziness with this reminder - nobody likes to consult a LAZY doctor, not even yourself! Being lazy is a waste of resources, a thief of your precious time and a betrayal to your potentials. Come on, grab the books, spend a lot of time in the wards/clinics and finish off your calls. Say goodbye to laziness TODAY!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 24 - Seek professional help ASAP once you detect symptoms of depression & anxiety within yourself. Lack of energy, loss of interest, insomnia, isolation and crying spells...to name a few. Help your friends with such symptoms - esp. if they're still in denial. Life as medical students can be very challenging & frightening, so monitor your progress closely!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 25 - Be exceptionally strong in your spiritual development. A doctor's soul needs constant enhancement and purification. It's your pure and sincere intention that serves as a shining beacon in the dark, showing you the way. Do not ever neglect your soul, or else you'll get easily de-motivated, demoralized, derailed and defeated!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 26 - Optimize your studying time to obtain as much medical knowledge
as possible. Take up all opportunities to sharpen your generic and medical skills. Equip yourself with appropriate manners and attitudes. Do not just aim for a borderline pass. How would you like consulting a doctor who only knows 5 out of 10 causes of acute abdominal pain?

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 27 - Take care of your love life, if you have decided you’re ready to commit for one. If it’s taking away too much of your time and energy, simply trying to make the other person happy – I guess you know where you’re heading to. Be wise in managing your priorities, first thing first! If things between you and him/her turn sour, do not mourn too long. Pick up the pieces and move on.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 28 - Return to your old schools if you have the opportunities to do so. Meet up your old teachers and motivate the juniors to follow your footsteps. Walk down those familiar corridors and bring back good memories, of how confident and enthusiastic you were feeling, once upon a time! Wonder where have all those feelings gone to? When did you exactly lose them? Work hard to regain those feelings.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 29 - Pray that you are going to do everything better today, InsyaAllah. Promise yourself that today is going to better than yesterday and tomorrow should be better than today. That's the only way to improve and move forward. If you're doing otherwise, whereby today is worse than yesterday - you're really regressing, not progressing here!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 30 - Pay attention to the needs of your body, mind, heart & soul. When your body is tired & your mind is exhausted, find rest by uplifting your emotion & spirit. Do not drown your soul with fake entertainment - providing temporary relief. Handle your fragile emotion with care.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 31 - Never forget to ask your parents to continue praying for you. Never hurt their feelings, never ever neglect them. Call home once every two or three days, no matter how busy you are. Spend time with them during semester breaks. You might be lucky enough to overheard their prayers during the tahajud (early morning prayers)....

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 32 - Practice makes perfect. Volunteer to present your clinical cases to your teachers. Perform physical examination of body systems regularly in front of your consultants or specialists. Polish up your skills. Build up your confidence and competence. There is no shortcuts to success & excellence!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 33 - Go to bed before 12MN and wake up early. Do you know that the quality of one hour of sleep before midnight is comparable to two hours of sleep after 12MN? Let your body rest, achieve deep REM sleep, allow your circadian rhythm to flow. Wake up fresh the next morning -ready to face the world!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS: Tip no. 34 - Always be a considerate roommate & a helpful friend. Never hurt another individual with your words & actions. Be well-known as a kind person, rather than as someone rude and disrespectful. Good virtues strengthen your inner core, negativeness will only weaken and erode your existing potentials.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 35 - Be your own best friend, and love thyself. Do not harm the precious soul that is now within you. Once you regret being you, and wonder why you're not someone else, push the pause button! There shall be no regret, for who you are now is more important than who you were before, because your future is dependent on what you decide now, for your very own self!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 36 - Find practical solutions to your problems. Do not simply ignore or sweep them under the carpet. Seek help & assistance from those around you. Have faith - there is no problem too big to be solved. Problem solving is a 'a must-have' generic skill for medical students!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 37 - Overcome your weaknesses with effective & practical steps. If you're not proficient in English, find a private tutor among your friends/teachers & start conversing in English. Don't be shy! Learn to laugh at your own mistakes, but don't forget to improve the next time.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 38 - Give your self a break today. Do something different than the usual routine. How about a quiet stroll down the park? Watch the leaves fall, smell the freshly-cut grass, listen to the birds chirping and look up the blue clear sky. Be grateful to Allah, for the opportunity to witness His magnificent glory & be a part of His Greatness!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 39 - Plan your study schedule accordingly. Allocate time to plan strategically, rather than simply studying haphazardly. It does not stop there - the biggest challenge is to discipline yourself to follow the schedule/plan. You can do it! Correction - you HAVE to do it! If you really want to survive med school...

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 40 - Be well-known as a kind, pleasant and caring person. If you're not known as that, it's never too late to change. Wondering whether you really have to? Well, that's my suggestion. Kindness is the buffer of human's sufferings. As doctors, we should have plenty of that.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 41- Be gently reminded, as much as you're frustrated with your teachers sometimes, so do the teachers. Help them to help you out. Be active and responsive during teaching sessions, speak out your doubts. Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions! Don't just stand there like a dead log! Don't give your teachers that glassy, empty, perplexed look each time they demand answers from you! Arrrggh...

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 42 - Do not be discouraged by what your seniors told you - this posting is hectic, the lecturers are fierce and malignant, the patients are terrible & not cooperative, etc. The information might be useful to prepare you, but do not allow it to shape your perception until you go through the posting rotation yourself!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no 43 - Look at the brighter side if you happen to fail a test/exam/evaluation today. Reflect why you failed, get feedback from your examiner(s). If you're still considered `incompetent' in the area evaluated, be grateful that you still have the chances to improve. Now is the right time for you to make mistakes (not blunders) - because you have teachers around to correct you!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 44 - For goodness sake, stop studying medicine just becoz' you wanna pass exams! How many times do I need to emphasize : exams are merely signposts by the roadside, in your journey to reach the destiny? Learn becoz' you NEED to know! And you know why that is so very important. Very soon, you are going to be doctors. Are you prepared to shoulder such great responsibility?

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 45 - Never forget to pray for other medical students all over the world, who are currently struggling to survive medic schools, just like you! You all share the same concerns, worries & uncertainties. Each of you can already start writing your autobiography by now. Yeah, why not do that? It's a great de-stressing mechanism, guys!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 46 - Listen carefully to what your patients tell you. You will learn more than just about the disease signs & symptoms. Most often than not, you will end up reflecting on your own life journey, wondering if you will end up like the patient you have just clerked. Learn from others and you'll be a wiser person each day.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 47 - Find your own de-stressing mechanism. Anything, just make sure it is not too risky & daring. Look out for your own space & solace. Friends can help. But at times, they may become too loud, noisy and distractive. If that is so, gently excuse yourself for a while. Don't worry, your friends will surely understand that you need time for yourself.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 48 - Improve your communication and interpersonal skills, even if you feel you're already good at that. Mind you, it requires a special skill to communicate with those who are sick, ill and diseased. Learn how to listen, talk and touch them. Listen carefully to all their complaints, sorrow and regrets. Soothe them with your kind words, caring facial expression and gentle touch. When it is your turn to be a patient soon, you would want a doctor who has mastered all those skills to look after you!

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 49 - Do not walk around with a miserable frown on your face, as if the sky is gonna fall on your head! Look up, walk straight, pull up your shoulders and wear a friendly smile. Greet and acknowledge people with cheerful salam. Bring the colourful rainbow with you, brighten up the day for others. You'll be surprised to experience the vibrant, positive energy returning back to you.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS : Tip no. 50 - Keep reminding yourself that you are currently training to be a future medical doctor. Whatever/Whoever had motivated you to take up medicine is not as important as what drives your desire to learn and discover the profession now. We're living in realtime, not in the past. Look forward and focus, once in a while you can glance into your `rear mirror' to remind you of the past and see who is catching up with you. Be inspired to become one of the best doctors around.

Dr. Har

6 responses:

Unknown August 31, 2012 at 8:17 PM  

Thanks dr. ¦)

Unknown September 11, 2012 at 9:01 PM  

thanks dr.. i'll really need this.. terima kasih :)

naqib rahim November 1, 2012 at 9:09 PM  


yeaslmn August 5, 2013 at 1:16 PM  

Thanks Dr. Har =)

Nada Haris June 28, 2014 at 1:10 AM  

Thankyou so much for such inspiring tips. Gosh I have loads of questions to ask regarding steps to become a surgeon in Malaysia. Do you know where I can find the answers? or maybe a site/forum that I can ask?

Thanks in advance. Lots of love,
first year med school student.

Unknown July 18, 2014 at 5:48 AM  

really great tips and your post is very appreciable to u thing same tip for students forMedical Study in Bangladesh please revert back. thanks

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