Shadowing a Doctor

October 16, 2013

Tips for hanging on

There’s no denying that medical school is tough – the curriculum is rigorous and the schedules even more so. No matter how fatigued you feel, you just have to keep forging ahead. You don’t have the luxury of taking some time off to stop and ‘smell the roses’.

Gap Medics student on hospital work experience in Iringa, Tanzania, with Gap Medics.

With such a persistently frenetic, there will be times when you feel like you just want to drop out of medical school. Those are the moments when you have to make that extra effort to hang in there. Don’t let the medical course define who you are. Instead, follow these few tips to make the most of your medical school years:

  • Manage your time – This is extremely important and should top your priority list. With proper time management, everything won’t seem so overwhelming.
  • Watch your health- Maintain a well-balanced routine in your eating and sleeping habits. Ensure that you eat nourishing and healthy foods and try to squeeze in some form of exercise into your daily routine.
  • Don’t try to be best at everything- Competition is undoubtedly one of the factors that eggs you on to perform better and that’s how you got into medical school in the first place. But keep in mind, that once you have got accepted, the playing field gets levelled-out automatically. You might compete with your classmates, but that is not going to make you a better doctor. Do not obsess about getting every answer right and scoring the highest grades. Instead, focus on understanding what you are learning and let it get ingrained in you.
  • Study smart- Memorizing your notes by reading them ten times over is not the best way to prepare for your exams. This will only drain you of energy and numb your grey cells. Instead, get into the habit of doing practice questions. Don’t just learn by rote, solidify the concepts instead. Statistics have shown that those who do practice questions end up being less exhausted with studying and perform better on the boards as well.
  • Study in groups- Even lone rangers should understand that medicine is about sharing information and working in a team. At the point of time when you apply for your residency, the directors will be looking for team players and that is what you should try to be.
  • Take steps to relieve stress- When you feel the study pressure building up, make a concerted effort to de-stress. Listen to music, exercise, spend some time with friends, indulge in your favourite hobby and move out of the college zone. In short, cut-off from study-mode for some time and then get back to what you need to do. Keep in mind that every single person in your class is going through the same grind.

Patient in the Burns Unit

Surviving medical college is about sporting a positive attitude and knowing that you are getting into a great profession. Be passionate about your work and what you are learning. It is a long process and when you feel that you are reaching break-point, calm down and shifting gears. That will help you get back on track.