OzTREKK Ambassadors: Navigating medical school… online
What’s it like to be a UQ medical school student who’s studying… online? Meet Mili, an OzTREKK Student Ambassador who’s doing just that!
After a whole year of being an “online” medical student, I can finally say that it’s not too bad. Virtual learning in any program comes with its challenges and rewards, and I’ve definitely learned to be patient when going through some tough spots in school.
My new best friend, Zoom, has been an interesting companion. I have been using Zoom since undergrad so it wasn’t too much of an adjustment. However, I will say that it is quite different to have cameras on and interact during tutorials and case-based learning session (CBL). It adds an additional layer of accountability with sharing your ideas. Initially this was a little challenging, but in the end it allowed me to dig deeper and really sharpen my clinical reasoning skills. Lectures, on the other hand, are very easy to navigate over Zoom. Our lecturers were very understanding of the challenges that entail virtual interaction and accommodated to the format by letting us ask lots of questions and making sure that we were understanding the concepts appropriately.
At the beginning of the year, I was quite nervous about how I would make friends over Zoom and be able to find that peer support, which is a pillar of navigating university. But this was easily mitigated. At UQ, we spend a majority of our tutorials and non-lecture learning activities with our CBL group mates. I would say that I see them more often than I see my family at home! This allowed us plenty of opportunity and time to get to know each other and help each other out in school work and share frustrations. Now, I have a little family with my CBL group and we often meet outside of class time to have “social hours” about life and I don’t ever feel like I’m in this med school journey alone.
Outside of classwork, the UQ medical student society has also been amazing in supporting our learning and supplementing our class activities. I have two weekly tutorials which are led by upper-year students who take us through the tough concepts of the week and really help consolidate our knowledge. They also take extra time to share their experiences of exams and high yield-concepts to help focus our studying efforts in those areas.
I’ll be honest, it was pretty difficult for me to stay focused while studying. Part of the reason is also because studying in medical school is a lot different than studying in undergraduate. That “drinking out of a firehose” analogy became my reality very quickly in first semester. So I was always scrambling at trying to figure out what to study and how to keep up with lectures. The lack of face-to-face interaction with my classmates and professors also played a part. I’d say I learned to be patient with learning a new studying style, and organization was a big part of overcoming this challenge. Making lists has become my new favourite thing. It keeps me accountable and focused on a few topics every day and plan out my week so that I’m not overwhelmed with all of the tasks for the week.
The final verdict
Even though I’m learning virtually, I wouldn’t say I felt like I missed out on too much. It definitely has its specific challenges, but patience is key. The number one tip that I would give for new student would be to put yourself out there! I know its nerve-wracking to participate in discussions and try to make friends over Zoom (or in person). But everyone is in the same boat as you! So if you’re willing to reach out even a little, you’ll be presently surprised!
About the UQ Medical School Doctor of Medicine Program
Program: Doctor of Medicine (MD)
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Semester intake: January
Duration: 4 years
Application deadline: Applications are assessed on a rolling admissions (first come, first served) basis. It is strongly recommended that applicants apply as early as possible to increase their chances of timely assessment.