by Lani Stover
Hey, guess what! Medical school isn’t the intimidating, life-sucking, time-eating machine that it’s made out to be. You just have to get your head around a few ideas that can help you enjoy med school, not just survive it. Here are the top three tips you’ll need to follow if you’re heading down that hefty medical school path.
1. Be Efficient! Be, Be Efficient!
Yep, you are going to need to do a major re-evaluation of your time management methods. Medical school can keep you a heck of a lot busier than what you were used to as an undergrad if you let it. You’re going to have to start doing the things you always do at about twice the pace. A saved minute here or there will seriously add up to make a difference in your day. Start by multi-tasking:
- Buy breakfast items that you can take with you and eat during class.
- Do squats while you brush your teeth.
- Make the obligatory call to your parent/friend/spouse while walking to your next class.
- Cook in large amounts and freeze the leftovers.
- If the guy giving the insert-topic-here lectures is useless, skip them and study on your own.
- Study while you’re on the toilet (or the bus).
- Change all your bills to monthly automatic draft so you don’t have to think about them anymore.
2. Don’t get sick. Ever.
Getting a cold or (heaven forbid) the flu during medical school is really, really unfortunate. It can throw you off your game in a big way and that’s the last thing you need. So make an effort to avoid the winter bugs that get spread around like wildfire. These efforts will give you the biggest bang for your buck:
- Don’t cozy up to your friends. Leave a few seats between you and other people if at all possible (whether they seem sick or not). Avoid sneezers and coughers at all costs.
- Wash your hands frequently. Wash with soap and water even if you’re in the hospital or clinic using the antibacterial foam dispensers. Sing Happy Birthday while you wash. This is length of time required to effectively cleanse away those germs.
- Get as much sleep as possible. Eat as healthy as possible. Exercise is good, but work out at home or go for a jog instead of hitting the gym. The gym is a germ-fest during flu season.
3. Take time to relax every single day.
Nobody would willingly choose to drive themselves to the point of exhaustion. Unfortunately the sense of cut-throat competition combined with the sheer volume of work thrown on you during medical school can trick you into that relentless mindset. The only way out is to make relaxation time a must. If you make this a daily priority then everything else in your seemingly overwhelming life has the opportunity to fall into perspective. Try to give yourself 5 minutes (minimum) of simple, quiet do-absolutely-nothing time:
- Stare at your lava lamp or the peaceful screensaver on your computer.
- Listen to meditation music.
- Prop your feet up and close your eyes and watch the darkness.
- Lie under a tree and stare at one leaf for as long as you can.
- Pay attention to your breathing, slow it down, let it make your belly expand.
It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are able to relax your body and your mind. Putting quiet back into your head can be difficult with all the time you spend shoving knowledge into it. But once you start making the effort, you’ll find that the quiet comes easier and easier.
These three tips are simple but important. By managing your time well you can find moments, even entire evenings and weekends, to relax and recover. And by keeping yourself healthy, you’ll only make med school that much easier. Besides, caring for your own health is great practice for your future career!