Medical school is a big undertaking and with all of the obligations, you have to balance it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You make sure that you’re doing everything right, but have you considered what you’re potentially doing wrong? We’ve compiled a list of classic mistakes medical students often fall victim to.
Poor time management skills
Medical school is one big balancing act. Between your academic obligations, clinical rotations, extracurriculars, research, and personal life it can take I’s toll. This is a great time to hone in on those time management skills and figure out a system that works for you.
This is something that will not only help you in medical school but in all the years to come of your residency and medical career. Be sure to balance all your needs including getting enough sleep, eating properly, and exercising. Don’t fall into the trap of making your life about medical school rather fit medical school into your existing life.
Lack of prioritization
There are only 24 hours in the day and, ideally, 1/3 of that should be dedicated to sleep. Doing everything that is expected of you can be practically impossible sometimes so it’s important to constantly assess and reassess your prioritize.
Getting through hundreds of pages of readings a day can be tough but being able to decipher what’s important and what’s not will help you cut down on your workload. It’s just as important to know what you need to know as it is to know what can wait sometimes.
This will also help you focus more of your attention on the critical material and less time being bogged down by information and stats that you’ll likely never come across again.
Don’t feel like supplemental reading is an obligation. Typically professors will add those for students who find that particular field of study interesting and that won’t always apply to you. Focus on what you have to first before what you want to.
Burning yourself out
Medical school can get very exhausting very fast. It’s a fast-paced environment with little time off so burnout happens at a much higher frequency.
It’s important to understand the signs of when you’re reaching a point of burnout and be able to implement changes to relieve you of the stress and burdens. Yes sometimes you’ll be exhausted and will have to push through it but when you’re burnt out you simply won’t be able to push any further.
You’ll be in desperate need of a break and your brain will essentially shut down when it comes to working. Burn out can contribute to you falling behind in class or affecting your performance so be sure to be aware of the signs. Most importantly, build in self-care routines throughout the day to give yourself a break from the hustle and bustle of the medical school life.
Find a role model
Being in medical school is the perfect place for finding a role model because they’re everywhere. You’ll come across many physicians whose work and contributions to the medical field are inspiring to you.
Sometimes you’ll even come across physicians who show you what you don’t want and that’s just as important. There’s so much you can learn about the art of practicing medicine from the role models around you that can’t be taught in the classroom. Find someone that inspires you and take some time to get to know them and learn about their journey.
Take some time for yourself
This one is super important. Yes, keeping up with your work and healthy habits is important but sometimes taking some time for yourself to do whatever you want, including nothing, is crucial for a good work/life balance. Do you enjoy art or yoga? Spending time with friends or family? Take some time out to do something totally different from your norm for a change.
I know it’s hard to convince ourselves that taking time away from studying is worth it but when you come back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated you’ll be thankful you did.
One piece of advice is to actually schedule your fun into your schedule first and then build your study time around that. This forces you to be more efficient when you do study and it incorporates time off into your regular schedule as opposed to “when I have time for it” because we all know, you won’t make time for it otherwise.
Medical school can be a great time of learning, growth, networking, and hard work. A support system will get you far during the hard times but making sure you’re not doing the five things mentioned above should keep the hard times at a minimum.
Take a second to evaluate your current lifestyle to see if you can make any changes to improve the quality of your time in medical school. You won’t be there forever so for the next few years set yourself up for success, it’ll pay off in the long run.
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