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Life as a pre-medical student: Coursework

vicky hargest medical pre-medical student

Vicky Hargest continues to share her experiences as a pre-medical student. This time the focus is on coursework and Vicky explains why she’s become ‘more organised than ever!’

I feel like I have been studying for years. Not because it is becoming tedious, but because I feel I have learnt so much. Having spent the first few month concentrating on the foundation sciences we are now well and truly in the ‘medical zone’.


Studying biology at a cellular level is a necessity and although it has been fascinating I cannot help but get more enthusiastic about topics such as genetic mutations, histology of tissues and the medical ethics surrounding assisted conception, abortion and embryonic testing.

In addition, we have each been given a very broad remit to deliver a 15-20 minute presentation on a subject of our choice, with a focus on the development of new medical and surgical treatments.

Although delivering a presentation is a daunting prospect, I am viewing this as an opportunity to embark on some independent study, to further my knowledge of endometriosis, and practice the ‘communication’ skills that will be vital throughout the next five years.


By far the most surprising subject of all has been physics. It’s amazing what some enthusiastic teaching and a few props can achieve in a room of physics-shy individuals.

We have so far learnt how the lenses in the eye work and how many sight defects can be corrected and we have also looked at the workings of the ear and how sound is amplified.

The largest topic by far however is radiation; how it affects the human body and its uses in the medical profession. So far we have been introduced to medical imaging techniques such as x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans and ultrasound.

I have found this subject extremely interesting, however do not be misled by the medical references, this is still physics and calculators are still required!


This semester we have further developed our understanding of chemistry. Although the ‘medical’ links are not as obvious as in biology or even physics, it is clear that the knowledge we have gained will be extremely useful in future years.

Some of the topics we have studied include rates of chemical reactions, the importance of acids, buffers and bases along with many more organic (homologous) series and their functional groups.

Despite being one of the more challenging subjects it does link extremely well with the other sciences. I now understand why molecules react in a particular way when exposed to radiation and also how isomers are important in drug therapy.

Exams are just around the corner (yes they do come round quickly), so it is really important to start pulling together all the topics covered. I have already started to make revision notes! With the upcoming presentation, a 2500 word physics essay and a full day chemistry practical exam due in the next couple of weeks I am having to be more organised than ever before.

About Vicky

Vicky Hargest is a medical student at the University of Sheffield. Although she has an arts degree (health studies) she has taken the pre-med route (six year course) in order to learn foundation sciences.

She is the first in her family to enter higher education - proving that medicine is for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Having worked in medical education for the last six years she is now seeing things from the other side of the fence.

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