The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

5 things you learn as a medical student


Medical schools train students using a common and rigorous core curriculum. No two schools are the same and each one offers its own unique academic focus, teaching methods and research opportunities.


In the first 2 years…


The first 2 years of medical school are a mixture of classroom and lab time. Students take classes in basic sciences such as anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology. They also learn the basics of interviewing and examining a patient.


The clinical experience…


In the third and fourth year medical students do rotations at hospitals and clinics affiliated with their school. Students doing rotations assist residents in a particular specialty such as surgery, paediatrics, internal medicine or psychiatry. At times, you’ll feel like a cross between a mindless grunt and a skilled apprentice. You’ll interact with patients, perform basic medical procedures along with any tasks the resident doesn’t want to do.


Rotations such as internal medicine is required at all programmes. The length of time you spend in a rotation depends on the hospital’s focus or strength. At some schools, the surgery rotation is three weeks long while others may take up to three months. The character of the hospital will also colour your experience. If the setting is urban you can expect increased experience with trauma, emergency medicine or infectious disease as well as exposure to a diverse patient population.


Clinical rotations will not give you enough expertise to practise in any specialty but they will give you a breadth of knowledge and help you consider potential career paths.


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