Getting into medical and healthcare schools is difficult, but what’s harder is the time and commitment required. Being a medical student comes with massive challenges on both personal and professional levels. The number of hours you will spend in a classroom, on hospital rotations, reviewing course material, and preparing for shelf and licensing exams is endless.
Often times you will feel overwhelmed by the amount of learning and studying that will be needed. On average, a medical student spends 30 to 40 hours studying alone, in addition to lectures and ward rotations which can result in burnout.
This might make you question how to have a life outside of school. But there are ways in which you can adapt to create a work/life balance during medical school. You can perform well in class and not miss out on special events in your life.
Below are six ways to maintain a work/life balance as a medical or healthcare student.
1. Beat stress by practicing calmness
With so much at stake, it’s natural for medical students to run at high levels of stress. Medical and healthcare students are known for harboring anxieties. While a little stress can be beneficial for working at optimal levels, you must also remind yourself to take things easy. Constant worries can negatively affect your physical health.
Practice calmness, self-control, and poise. It will help you maintain your posture in hospitals and work more effectively during emergency situations.
2. Opt for flexible courses
While most of the medical and healthcare programs require in-class learning, there are plenty of online healthcare programs which you can choose from. Online learning comes with great flexibility and freedom. The liberty that comes with online learning can also allow you to pursue your employment along with the degree.
It offers relative financial affordability than in-person learning. If you have family responsibilities, a full-time job online learning might be an ideal situation. It is also perfect for mid-career level professionals i.e. nursing students, who want to stay relevant with recent guidelines while also continuing a career in healthcare.
Similarly, medical students can also opt for self-paced, recorded lectures which they can access anywhere anytime. In recent time, live surgeries are videotaped for medical students to view later. This will help them streamline their efforts and time and make them more productive.
3. Organize your schedule
With overwhelming hours for medical students to spend at school and hospital, it’s easy to lose track of time. Scheduling your day is the best way to manage time. It saves you from wasting time on unnecessary activities and lets you use your efforts more efficiently. It will relax your mind, regulate your emotions and decrease anxiety levels.
Get a planner, a diary, or keep an online journal. Take note of all your important deadlines and assignments. Mention daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and goals. Spend 20 minutes every day to schedule and plan your day.
Create a daily to-do list. Find out what time of day suits you the best for studying and block it off. Dedicate time to studying and revision and take time out for exercise and relaxation. Tick off the items you have completed from the list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and the necessary dopamine kick that your brain requires. Planning helps you get more organized, and productive and avoids procrastination.
4. Do not neglect your health
As a medical student, with extensive syllabus and coursework, you are prompted to pull a lot of all-nighters. The practice can negatively affect your health in the long run.
A human body is running on limited fuel. Once that fuel is depleted it needs time to reset and refresh. Therefore, it’s vital to take care of your physical and mental health. Sleep for eight hours every day. It will help you increase your focus and quality of learning.
With little sleep, you will not be able to function optimally. Consume healthy food to maintain good brain and body health. Take time out for exercise. It has been shown to improve retention, memory, and physical health.
Make sure to take out time for friends and family to enjoy and spend quality time. Prioritize self-care. Spend time on your favorite activities. Watch movies and go for a hike. Because in the end, it is important to remember that only a balanced life can make you successful in the long run.
5. Keep friends and family close
Making like-minded friends during medical school will allow sharing your experiences, thoughts, and bits of advice with each other. It will provide a safe place to discuss your problems and avoid any anxiety and stress that you might face during your journey. Moreover, you can ask for help from your peers. Inquire about their methods and ways of creating a healthy work/life balance and implement a few of these formulas in your life.
Supportive friends also provide you an opportunity to study together in groups and keep a check on one another.
Additionally, a caring family will understand your limits. It won’t nudge when you miss a family holiday for an important licensing exam. They will be your helping hand and a listening ear during hard times. And provide you with the reassurance, nurturing, and care that you will require.
6. Don’t give up on your interests
Most of medical students have various interests and hobbies at the beginning of medical school. But the pressure, responsibility, and time commitment that a medical school requires will let them abandon those interests. Although the demands for medical students are high and the amount o dedication that is required is extreme, it is important to keep those interests alive. These hobbies and interests affect your life positively.
Not only do they let you de-stress but also indirectly can influence the skills required for your career, For example, playing piano and sewing will make you a better surgeon. Rowing and weight lifting will help you in orthopedics. Chess and Sudoku will sharpen your mind and improve your retention, memory, and retrieval skills when attempting complicated cases in exams or real life.
The idea of relentless dedication and 20 hours a day is redundant now. There is no way in this world that you can take care of your patients without taking care of yourself. It will instill in you a sense of responsibility, affection, and compassion which you will need as a doctor and a healthcare worker. To provide excellent healthcare, excel in your career, and maintain your physical and mental well-being, it is of utmost importance that you maintain a healthy work-life balance.