My Friends Wrote a Bible

First Year Health Science is one of the most intense university courses on offer. It’s the precursor for professional programmes Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy and Physiotherapy. As if any first year course isn’t challenging enough, Health Sci has 2000 students enrol, and limited spots at the finish line. It includes 7 compulsory papers, shit tonnes of lectures, tutes, labs, assignments, tests and readings, and a whole lotta pressure.

It’s the kinda year you reach the end of, and you wish someone had given you more advice, or told you helpful things – and that’s where The Health Sci Bible comes in.

Jack Davies and Marcus Ground are busy bois – Jack’s in his third year of Medicine and Marcus is in his second. They were once Health Sci freshers who like many others, felt they had little guidance in their first year.

So what did they do?

They wrote a book, packed full of insider info on how to survive and thrive in First Year Health Science. Named the ‘Health Sci Bible’, this bad boy includes advice from many people who have been through Health Sci themselves, and its chapters include info on study techniques, lectures, residential halls, managing your health, the papers, things to do in Dunedin, uni stories and more.


The book has already caused a few ripples down in the Dirty-D, so I sent Jack and Marcus a few questions about it, and this is what they had to say.

Gimme a brief description of your Health Sci year!

‘Just awful. Oh god. Don’t make me remember it. It was tough, it was a lot of work, and for the most of it, it was cold and wet. My Health Sci experience was a stubbed toe, in what was otherwise an enjoyable university experience. The worst part about Health Sci is that you spend hours learning things that aren’t relevant to the course that you want to get into. I spent hours reading about nuclear physics and cow microbiomes. I guess it needs to be done though, there needs to be a way of spreading out the class.’ – Marcus Ground

‘I’m a competitive person so the idea of a year long race with entry into medicine as the finish line appealed to me and the challenge helped get me through those massive library sessions. Looking back on it though, pushing yourself to your absolute limit in terms of stress, sacrifice, emotions and time is not good for your health. Health sci can be bad for your health. I look back on the year with a ‘job done’ attitude, but it was not an enjoyable year. I think it could be easier and more enjoyable with a bit of guidance.’ – Jack Davies


Tell us a lil about the book!

The ‘Health Sci Bible’ has all the tips, all the traps and none of the bull. It’s directed at First Year Health Science students at Otago University. We’ve taken a comical approach and tried to embrace the scarfie way of life in what we’ve written. It includes pieces of advice from approximately 20 students who have done Health Sci themselves. We reckon when you have thousands of students all gunning for limited spots in the professional courses, it is inevitable that Health Sci will be a shit year. You will have to do lots of study and it can be stressful. We just wanted to try make it a little bit easier.

The bible took about two months to put together, with Jack and Marcus ticking away at it over the summer break. Around 20 of their friends (including me!) contributed pieces to the book, Uniprint published it and the University Bookshop stocks it – both in-store and online!

‘A massive thanks to UniPrint, the University Bookshop and the 20 friends of ours who contributed pieces to the book’ – Jack + Marcus

What inspired you to create this?

We got to the end of Health Sci, and thought ‘there’s so much stuff I know now, that would’ve made my year so much more enjoyable had I known it going into that year,’
We wanted to share what we had learnt with future health sci’s, so they don’t fall into the same traps we did.

Do you have any favourite quotes from the book?

It’s hard to pull out individual pieces from the book, but our favourite chapters are ‘Etymology’ (the study of words), and ‘A day in the life of a Health Sci’. There’s a few chapters that have caused a bit of a stir at the university, in particular the pieces about the colleges and papers. Whoops.

How does it feel to be published authors now?

To be honest, we’re a little bit worried. From what we’ve heard the university aren’t too happy with our little project and we’re waiting to see what will happen to the book. Apart from that, we’re excited to see where it goes and stoked to see our names in the book shop!

What (if any) was the most useful piece of advice you were given going into to HSFY?

The best piece of advice I received (and ignored) was to have a balance. Do things that aren’t studying and make them the things that you enjoy! It is so easy to lose your hobbies in transitioning from high school to uni but they are important. You can keep those things up and still achieve your health sci goals e.g. entry into medicine.  – Jack Davies

I also remember in our intro lecture one of the lecturers saying something along the lines of: “put your books down, go to the beach, feel the sand between your toes and it won’t feel as bad.” Couldn’t agree with this more. – Marcus Ground


Both boys had different Health Sci experiences, Jack did his first year in a residential hall, while Marcus flatted in his.

In my opinion, the bible is the perfect balance of humour, shit talking and actually really useful information.

‘Good food with nice variety. The satay chicken is outstanding.’
Simon Morbey on Studholme College.

There’s even tips on what lectures to take, hall reviews (which are hilarious), and anecdotes from previous Health Sci students.

Chapters of the Bible include:

  • A day in the life of a Health Sci
  • How do lectures work?
  • The Papers
  • How not to do Health Sci
  • How to study/take notes
  • Rumours
  • Etymology
  • The Libraries
  • Exam Workshops
  • UMAT
  • How to Calculate your Score
  • The Professional Courses
  • Dropping out
  • Student Health
  • Managing your Mental Health
  • Drugs
  • Coffee
  • OUSA
  • Halls
  • Red Cards
  • What do I do when I’m not studying?
  • The Health Sci Poem

For those of you who know Jack, he is unashamedly a library addict; he froths a good library. So, the boys included a library review section in the book. No shit, this is solid information, worth it’s weight in gold. I’m so surprised they included this top secret info – it’s enough of a reason alone to purchase the book!
Spolier: Robertson Library is a crowd favourite. ‘The mushroom of libraries.’ 

Loads of people contributed and offered different pieces and perspectives to the book. Some shared their own stressful experiences, others revealed the true pinnacles of the scarfie way of life. I helped write the ‘Managing your Mental Health’ section, particularly focusing on depression. I’ve had my own struggles with mental health – which was particularly bad in my first year of uni –  so it was awesome being able to write about my experiences, and offer helpful information for students who may be in the same boat, or maybe experiencing a friend’s mental health decline. Health Sci is such a stressful year, as is any first uni year, and the stressful environment can enable mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, insomnia and eating disorders.

The Bible has such a wide scope of the whole Health Sci experience – the boys did such a good job including many aspects of what is a bloody stressful first year. The style of writing is young, energetic, and quintessential scarfie. It has just the right amount of humour and wit, whilst also being very clear and easy to follow. There’s even poetry in there, courtesy of Lachlan Lee.

7.45am: Experience caffeine-induced need to poo. YOU ARE NOW READY FOR YOUR DAY
excerpt from ‘A day in the life of a Health Sci’ chapter

So apparently the book is causing a bit of a stir at Otago Uni (who knows why?!) – people within the Health Sci departments aren’t too keen on it, and some have gone as far as to discourage students from purchasing it. I think this is a lil stupid, the book’s purpose is to help and encourage for the best first year possible! Telling students not to buy the book is the best free marketing though – when you tell someone not to do something of course they’re gonna do it.

a publication that is preeminent especially in authoritativeness or wide readership.

Part of the back cover blurb reads: ‘This is to be your bible, your book of hope, your holy word. It will help you in times of need. Heed our wisdom, and you will prosper.’

Marcus, Jack, textbooks, Health Sci Bibles, and the Dirty-D

Although it’s cheekily named a bible, you don’t have to preach it! This book is to be used as a guide for Health Sci, helpful info, or just read it for a good time. It offers suggestions, real stories, real experiences, all carefully compiled into one easy-to-read book.

My parents have had a read of the book, and even though they knew nothing about Health Science or modern-day university, they love it too. Debs approved.

‘I really like it!’ – Debs

For any parents of Health Sci’s reading this – the Health Sci Bible is an awesome thing to include in that next care package you’re gonna send. It would make for a good birthday prezzie too.

It’s good for anyone doing health sci – pick up a copy for a good time.

And for anyone else, support the boys and grab a copy anyway!

I’m so proud of Jack and Marcus for not only becoming published authors, but for pursuing a groovy idea and putting out a truly awesome book that will help so many people!

They’ve also created a Facebook Page for the bible, flick it a like and follow the journey!

You can buy the book in Dunedin at the University Bookshop, or online here.



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