You have hit it big. You have finally made it to med school and you couldn’t be happier about it. After all, you out-brained so many other competitors to be here and that is quite an achievement, no? But amidst these happy, feel-good thoughts, there are these faint, yet discernible, whispers somewhere in the shadowy corner of your mind.
“I have made it, but at what cost?”
“I am never going to have life again!”
“These doctors just study and study till they die. Some even take their books with them to their graves!”
“Am I actually ready to trade my whole life for my profession?”
Scary enough to make any man think twice, right? Well, trust me when I say that it’s okay, you are not alone. You are not the first to have such intrusive thoughts and certainly not the last one. Such fears are quite literally given birth to in every healthcare professional’s mind, believe it or not. “Then how do they act so cool and collected all the time as if they are all in control of their lives?’’, you ask. It’s pretty simple, they are regular readers of our blogs.
Just kidding! But they are probably using one or all of the 5 invaluable gems that we are about to share with you right now which are going to give you both a satisfying life and a promising career. So let’s delve right into it!
Have a proper sleep routine
I just cannot stress enough how important this is. So many students possessing immense potential have been lost owing to the lack of sound sleep. Being a medical student, you must be aware of the fact that your body has a natural circadian rhythm and how the pineal gland regulates the release of melatonin at night to ensure optimal functioning of your body and your mind.
How do you suppose you can mess with your hormone levels and deprive your body of its well-earned rest without incurring significant damage? Allow me to tell you: it is impossible.
If you are not getting adequate sleep and/or you have abnormal sleeping hours, not only are you going to miss out on those morning lectures, but you are also going to have a greatly diminished learning capacity which will make med school much tougher than it already is.
Apart from the academic aspect, having a healthy sleep cycle is going to have immense health benefits which will stretch to your social life as well.
A good night’s sleep will keep you refreshed and energized throughout the day, which will profoundly increase the quality of your personal interactions and will certainly prevent you from becoming that one really irritable colleague who no one wants to socialize with.
Study on time for your tests/assessments
Since we are talking about med school, this should probably go without saying, right? But since the benchmark is ‘just passing’ here, you would be surprised to know how many people take that at face value and become chronic procrastinators. “Let’s skip this one test./It is too early to start studying./Chill, we’ll start studying right before the exam.” You will often hear them say.
Please DON’T fall prey to such inane arguments no matter how enticing they may sound, because they never work. Procrastinating everything and leaving off the entire syllabus till the 11th hour is one of the cruelest things you can do to yourself.
Cramming everything right at the end is one of the poorest studying techniques which yield little to no understanding of the concepts applied in the subject.
Adding insult to injury, performing poorly in your assessments is inevitably bound to taint your self-esteem. You’ll feel less stressed and much better about your self-control and exam scores if you start studying early and thoroughly. And of course, having a schedule can never harm you.
Don’t neglect physical fitness
Neglecting physical fitness is one of the most widely committed crimes by students of demanding fields. There’s a safety net that we all like to fall back on in our heads: “Getting unfit due to the workload? Oh, a small price to pay for salvation. My time spent at the gym could be better spent studying.” But trust me, that could not be further away from the truth.
Exercising regularly is one of the best gifts you can give yourself as proven by a research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine which indicates that workers who engage in moderate exercise have a higher standard of work and better performance than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Not only does regular exercise keep your body and mind in a healthy working condition but it also keeps you from becoming an unfit, unappealing mess. And honestly, who minds looking good? By incorporating physical exercise, be it anything from zumba classes to working out at the gym, into your daily routine leads to a release of endorphins in your body which automatically boosts your mood.
In addition to physical exercise, be extremely vigilant in regard to your diet. We have all seen students running on caffeine and energy drinks to keep up with the demands of their work but these poor souls often end up subjecting their bodies to a myriad of digestive and nutritional disorders.
Be wise enough to be careful with the macros of your diet and to not overdose on such stimulants because these ‘quick fixes’ promise long-term misery.
Eating right and exercising can undoubtedly transform not only your body but your mind as well, giving access to newer levels of physical and mental energy and stamina.
Surround yourself with the right people
We are familiar with the famous ‘A man is reflected by the friends he keeps’ quote and to be fair, they said so for a reason. Your selection of friends is quite possibly the most important determinant of your academic and social lives. Strive to find and associate yourself with people who share similar goals and values because trust me, this one decision will go a very long way.
If you are surrounded by people who have a very nonchalant approach towards their careers, they will more than often end up convincing you to bunk lectures and do all sorts of stuff except for what’s actually conducive to your academics.
Not only will you start to fall behind in your classes but you will also become increasingly pessimistic in the face of the challenging med school.
Sadly, it doesn’t end there. Your company is going to shape your taste and your future choices profoundly. While some friends might introduce you to new research papers and medical advances, some might introduce you to new party circles and cool spots to hang out at.
Make no mistake, have a very balanced approach in this regard or you are going to fall on either end of the spectrum, neither of which is preferable. Keep your eyes on your career but without missing out on the banter and cracking open a cold one with the boys!
Hold on to your hobbies and passions
It actually hurts my heart to see those artists who stopped painting, the guitarists who stopped playing, the writers who stopped writing and the list goes on, all citing the workload as the common factor.
There’s no doubting the fact that the medical profession is a very demanding one and asks for its fair share of sacrifices, but nothing should ever come at the expense of losing your identity.
The movies you watch, the music you listen to, the books you read; they all define you and you should always stay in touch with the things that shape you. It’s not necessary to be overly indulgent in them to the point of disregarding your academic obligations, but not taking out the essential ‘me time’ will sooner or later drain you.
Taking essential breaks from studying is just as important as the act of studying itself. So no matter how busy your schedule might be, don’t forget to take out some time for that book that you have been meaning to read or for watching that movie that has been on your bucket list for the longest time because you deserve that peace of mind.
In no way are these pieces of advice the perfect antidote to chaos but what they will certainly do is make your student life a little less stressful and your social life a little more enjoyable and I think that’s a real bargain for just a few minutes of reading, no?