September 9, 2011

Time management required for a social life in med school

Filed under: Med School and the MSTP — sanguinemare @ 10:32 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have begun to realize more and more that in order to do anything in med school, you have to literally schedule it in.  Otherwise, it will never happen. (Such as blogging! Oh ho ho ho).  This is true for extracurriculars, and for studying itself.  But what is surprising is that it is even true for something as seemingly simple as hanging out/eating/talking with classmates.

I have discovered that I can go through a whole week of classes with everyone, and yet see/talk to only 10 people or less.  And most of those conversations consist of fleeting greetings between classes, or brief questions about test content/homework, or how disorganized/boring/hard-to-understand the classes are (yes, people still complain about classes just as much as they do in undergrad… or more).  Just yesterday, I realized that the times I have really talked to people or seen them within the last two weeks only happened through proactive scheduling on someone’s part.  And from what I’ve heard from people who have gone through/are going through long distance relationships during med school, they have to literally schedule in skype/phone time, because otherwise they’re too busy and their SO starts feeling neglected.

It’s something that creeps up on us without us even realizing, being in this environment where everyone studies all the time.  The time that we have to spend with people we care about will grow less and less, until we end up speaking once a week, a month, a year, 5 years… and then wonder what happened with our life.  It disturbs me a little to notice that I have to make a conscious effort to maintain contact with people that I see every day, much less people who are not in the area.  On the other hand, it also makes me appreciate it that much more when I get a chance to reconnect with someone.

You know how people say college tests people’s ability to actually take care of themselves, because that’s when they need to start waking up in the morning and getting to school, making meals etc. without their parents’ support?   Well, med school tests people’s ability to be organized and manage their time really well… because simply put, if you can’t, you’ll flail and sink.  Once you fall behind, it’s almost impossible to catch up. I know – I’m behind about 2-3 weeks and I can’t see an end to the catching-up I have to do.  In 3 weeks, I’ve already filled up a notebook each in med school and grad school, and that usually doesn’t happen until the end of the semester (15 weeks) in undergrad, and in high school, I would still have at least 1/3 of blank pages at the end of each semester.  That tells you how fast we go here.  So you really need to be on top of your game.

My advice?  Start learning to manage your time well in undergrad.  Then it won’t be such a major adjustment.  You don’t have to go overboard like I did, doing ~3-5 major extracurricular commitments on top of 20+ units every semester, but it will help to stretch yourself a little bit and try to take on more than just the minimal going to class and studying.  It’ll help – trust me.  And as a bonus, you’ll be involved in something outside of schoolwork, which is always good for application processes 😛


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