Hello, my name is Sarah and it’s a privilege to be your GPSN National Chair for 2023.
Congratulations to those commencing their journey into medicine. On behalf of current GPSN members, we welcome you to our community. Medical school is challenging but the chance to have a profound impact on people’s lives is the prospect that will sustain you through any crisis of confidence. I remember feeling overwhelmed at the start of medicine, however, I soon realised that medical school is tough for almost everyone. To help, I’ve collated three pieces of advice that can aid a smooth transition into medical study.
Tip 1 – Sign up to everything during orientation week
I remember being told by a recent graduate that their biggest regret was not getting involved in the extracurricular opportunities during medical school. With that in mind, I signed up to every society during orientation week. From the Bestbrook Mountain Farmstay to participating in the annual med revue production, my highlights of medicine so far haven’t been related to the curriculum. I certainly would not be introducing myself as the GPSN National Chair if it wasn’t for this advice.
GPSN provides leadership opportunities from day one. My personal journey started as a first year representative at my local club. This progressed to joining the executive committee and, now, the national team. Here you’ll develop friendships with peers, learn clinical skills, and network with GPs across Australia. With general practice encompassing a broad range of knowledge and skills, there is something to gain from GPSN no matter what your interest.
Tip 2 – Find your own groove, don’t worry about what others are doing
You’ll enter medicine hearing about numerous study ‘tactics’ that people use, and it can become overwhelming. With that said, let me add some of my own advice to the pile! I recommend trying new ways of learning, be flexible, and don’t compare yourself to others.
At one of my first events, a GP recommended the podcast ‘S2D: The Symptom to Diagnosis’ as a form of study. Learning medicine by listening to a podcast was a strange concept for first-year Sarah, but years later I’m still listening to it on my hospital commute. Other strategies that could work for you include note-taking (be sure to make it colourful), attending student-led tutorials, university specific Anki decks, group study, or online videos.
Tip 3 – Take time for yourself, don’t give up on what you enjoy
This is something I wish I did during my first year. Don’t feel like all your spare time needs to be spent studying (easier said than done, I know). During my undergraduate degree, I was involved in sport and part-time work. Unfortunately, I let these things lapse when I moved interstate for medical school. Whether it’s a social netball club on a Monday or trivia nights with friends, don’t feel guilty for doing the things you enjoy.
Where does GPSN fit in?
GPSN is a network that supports you through every stage of medical school and connects thousands of medical students across Australia. In your first year, we create experiences that make you feel supported including suturing workshops and state-wide networking events, to name a few. Moving into clinical years, we run OSCE nights, career evenings, and procedural skills sessions to help you feel prepared for placements.
A key message for students is that we aren’t just for those attracted to general practice. Our events are relevant to medical school life and will broaden your skill set for a number of different specialities.
2023 will be an exciting year for GPSN
Our GPSN committee has been working hard to make sure 2023 is a fantastic year. With plans involving ‘A Day in the Life of a GP’ sessions and ‘Teach Me Radiology’ evenings, I am looking forward to seeing our local clubs flourish. Our state-based events are also set to return following a successful year in 2022 which included ‘GP First Steps’ and the ‘Introduction to Ultrasound’ workshop from NSW/ACT and VIC/TAS, respectively. These events bring together students from neighbouring medical schools to engage with activities relevant to general practice.
The National Working Group will continue to develop and hold events within their areas of interest – research, rural practice, Indigenous health, community, and mental health. Key events in 2022 involved the Rural FarmStay held in Coonawarra and the Cultural Immersion Camp at the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre. We also saw collaboration between GPSN and AMSA Rural Health to hold our annual Indigenous Health Webinar. Our current areas of research include mental health coping strategies used by medical students during COVID-19 and the efficacy of interventions outlined by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework.
How can you get involved?
GPSN is one of the few clubs with a presence in nearly every medical school across Australia. Some ways to get involved are:
- Contact your local club – whether it’s through social media or during orientation week, don’t be afraid to ask about upcoming events and any committee positions that may be available!
- Attend our events – there’s something for everyone in our calendar with whole-state careers events, university-specific revision nights, and focused clinical skills sessions being just some of the available options.
- Network with our National Working Group – encompassing research, Indigenous health, rural projects, community and mental health, this team runs Australia-wide projects.
- Connect and follow us on social media – We have a strong presence with updates on events, opportunities, and giveaways.
Looking back, GPSN positively shaped my first experiences in medicine more than I realised and I feel proud to continue my involvement within our community. We are a network of enthusiastic and welcoming students eager to seize the rare opportunities afforded us by our medical school journey.
I feel excited to be the National Chair for 2023 and I warmly welcome you to GPSN.