Pre-med is not for the faint of heart. Students studying medicine are under a constant amount of extreme pressure, which only becomes harder as they reach medical school. Besides being an incredibly competitive field, students are required to study for months without end, work well in high-pressure situations, and deal with a lot of emotional hardship.
Even during clinical practice, the emotions can be nearly debilitating. Compassion is a necessity, but it must be done while also keeping your emotions in check.
So how does one survive these grueling years? How can students not only ace their schooling but ensure it doesn’t completely take over their lives?
Here we look at a few proven ways pre-med students have learned to balance life. Many of these can also be applied to the next step on the journey to become a doctor – medical school.
Get Help if Necessary
High stress environments can wreak havoc on even the most resilient people’s mental health. A study from 2010 shows that 15% of pre-med students meet the strict guidelines for clinical depression. A 2016 study saw that this number only increases once students reach medical school, with the percentage with depression reaching 27%.
If you need help, get it. Never be afraid to speak up and tell someone you are feeling depressed…. And always remember that suicide is never the answer.
Become an Expert Studier
There is an adage that says the volume and depth of information a student is expected to learn in medical school is like drinking from a fire hose. To put it short: it can be very overwhelming. Therefore, it is vital to become an expert studier while still in pre-med, or else you will drown once you reach med.
A few quick study tips:
- Avoid all-nighters. While it may seem like a promising idea, you aren’t as productive after a certain point – and it is much more valuable to get a full night’s sleep.
- Find an organization system for notes, papers, books, etc. that works best for you.
- Take regular breaks while studying to keep your mind fresh. Every 45 minutes you spend steadily studying, you should take 15 minutes to breath. Walk around the room, grab a snack, take a quick shower, or whatever you need to do to clear your mind.
- Study smarter. If you have something down, skip over that and focus on the areas you need the most help with. There are some programs which allow you to do this in an organized, effective fashion – like CanadaQBank.
Take Care of Yourself
Do not neglect your physical health while in school, as this can haunt you well into the future. Even if it means having half an hour less time to study, it is vital that you prioritize your physical health as the most important thing. This includes getting thirty minutes of moderate exercise daily, eating a balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water. Also, don’t forget to get those eight hours of sleep each night.
Remember “Me Time”
Between school, clinicals, maintaining a social life, exercising, and possibly even working, your “me time” can disappear. Make every effort to ensure it doesn’t, however. At least once a week you should be spending a few moments caring for yourself. Do something you enjoy. Take a long, hot shower or read a book. Visit your family for the afternoon or catch up with your siblings. You’ll feel much better after.