Managing your time as a pre-med student

April 4, 2016

unusual medical careers (3)

With a lengthy list of things they need to get done before applying to medical school, pre-meds are easily amongst the busiest students on a college campus.

Not only do they need to work hard to keep their grades up, but they also have to find time to participate in extracurricular activities, do research, and find valuable volunteering opportunities. They also have to work on short-listing medical schools, their eligibility criteria and application deadlines. There’s no arguing that’s a lot of things to get done in a short span of time!

So how is a pre-med student expected to manage all of this and get through college without having a breakdown? If you find yourself in this typical pre-med predicament, here are a few time management tips that you will find very useful.

Make detailed plans

Good planning is the key to making the most of the time you have available. If you want to get through pre-med and medical school, you will have to get into the habit of planning things out. There’s no way around that. Start by setting out your larger goals in life. Ideally, keep a weekly planner where you can mark your exam dates, assignment submissions, dates when you should start researching medical schools, and other significant events. Get into the habit of checking this planner every week so that you can plan one week at a time based on it.

The next thing you need to do is create a weekly planner where you write down everything that you need to get done during that week. Distribute the tasks evenly throughout the week so that you have sufficient time to complete everything without letting it spill over for the next day or next week.

Reserve enough time for your classes, meetings, assignment work and studies but don’t forget to slot in some relaxation time, too. This is crucial as it will help you recharge and prepare for what’s ahead. Plan your rest in such as way that you get sufficient time to relax every day.

Be consistent

When you plan out your day, be consistent with your schedule so that you get into a rhythm. Study one subject during the same time block every day. If your brain works at peak levels in the morning, finish off the studying every morning so that you can shut your books after that and you have the rest of the day free. If you are an evening person, plan your schedule accordingly.

Once your mind gets used to a fixed schedule, you will find it easier to stick to the plan, and you will find that you manage to get things done in a shorter time too.

Learn to say no

‘No’ is a difficult but important word to learn when you’re a pre-med. You need to learn how to put your life first and not worry about upsetting others because you cannot oblige their every request. Say no to friends who want to party all night when you have a test the next day. There is time for fun and a time for work and knowing the difference is what differentiates a successful pre-med from someone who will find it an uphill task.

Ask for help when you need it

It’s difficult to follow such a strict and disciplined life on your own. Ask your roommates, friends and family to help you out. Find a study partner and get them to motivate you to exercise, to switch off the TV after an hour and encourage you to stick with your schedule.

Planning, consistency and determination along with an occasional nudge from family and friends will help you get through this super-busy pre-med phase without breaking down or giving up.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.