Medicine work experience

How to prepare before your first year of med school

20th September 2022

So you have that long awaited email to say you have an unconditional offer – you are
officially on your way to medical school! But what now? Do you need to buy any textbooks?
A stethoscope, a white coat, a surgical scalpel??

Those are the questions we were all left with once the celebrations settled down and the
realisation that starting medical school wasn’t actually that far away. Of course make the
most of your summer and use the time to relax, but you can never be too organised! So
here are a few suggestions which I wish someone had taken the time to give me before I
started my first year at university.

Books, Books, Books

Do not bother buying any textbooks before you are given your reading list during your
inductions. They are extortionately expensive and you run the risk of wasting hundreds of
pounds if you end up purchasing the wrong ones.

Your uni will recommend specific books and authors tailored toward your course. And they
tell you which are MUST HAVE books and which are only suggested reading. Many you will
be able to find in your university library so you can even get away with not buying a single
book all year!

Do you need a stethoscope?

Probably not. The medical school will probably have tonnes which you are able to use
during clinical skills. But if you want to practice in your own time then of course you’re
welcome to buy one. A cheap one from Amazon will do for now (put the Littmann on your
Christmas wish-list).

Do you need to do any pre-reading?

Maybe just the basics. Revisit AS human biology and look over the fundamentals of each
body system. A little bit of anatomy, a little bit of physiology. Just so you have some
knowledge to build upon when you’re thrown into the dissection labs.
What are the studying essentials?

Just the usual stationery, you don’t need anything special or fancy for medical school.
Decide beforehand whether you’re going to be taking a laptop to lecturers or just writing in
a notebook. If you have this figured out you will save yourself stressing about how to make
and organise your notes.

A few indispensable apps…

Complete Anatomy

All you will EVER need to know about Anatomy. With stunning visuals and the ability to
make your own revision quizzes. What more could you need?


Pharmacology may not be something you need to know tonnes about in first year but it is
always handy to get into good habits early on. The mobile version of the British National
Formulary lists every medication you will ever come across, their indication, dosage and so


There are so many amazing YouTube accounts which will become your best friend,
especially if you have a not so great lecturer for a subject.

“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.” Getting yourself
all sorted out and organised before even setting foot into your new halls of residence means
you can make the most of freshers and spend (at least) your first few weeks of medical
school worry free.