I’m not a fan of prolonged articles that frankly take forever to get to the point so here’s my conclusion upfront.
Balance. Balance is the essential quality absent in the lives of the majority of premed students. I’m not talking about your cerebellum’s basic function here, I’m talking about an attribute that when lacking has the ability to dramatically decrease the quality of your life.
Hear me out here, I know that the FUNDAMENTAL quality of any successful premed student is dedicated and consistent work-ethic. However, it increasingly seems we’re living our lives primarily to complete each stage of requirements. We go from SAT, to MCAT, to USMLE, to Boards and on and on. We’re living to fulfill pre-reqs, fill up volunteer hours, and scouring for new shadowing opportunities. We’re in this endless race, in competition with our peers, to do the most. We put our bodies under immense stress- taking 18 credits a semester, doing research, and being leaders of clubs. We work really hard, and the people who may work slightly less than the absolute maximum are seen as wanting it less.
The problem with this culture of devoting our entire beings is flawed in many aspects. It’s not uncommon for people to routinely sacrifice their family time, time with friends, and health in order to get ahead in this field. I know the gut reaction of this sort of post- If I don’t prioritize my education then I’m going to fall behind and be an uncompetitive applicant. I’m not saying to de- prioritize your quest to medicine, but to build better habits that allow you to lead a healthier, more joyful lifestyle that allows you to prosper.
These years are supposed to be the best of our lives! By pursuing our own passions and dedicating time to personal development and socialization we can prevent burning out (which is officially a medical condition as recognized by the World Health Organization) and actually spur us to become better academics and future physicians. Below are a few applicable tips of how to gain more balance and lead a healthier lifestyle as a premed and beyond.
- Schedule time for yourself. No matter the circumstance, ensure that you have a small portion of time every week to do whatever you want to do. Make it a timed event. Put it on your calendar! Just don’t push it off to study or do other things, schedule it at a good time so you can reset and avoid burning out.
- Try new things! Try the things you’ve always wanted to do and the things you’d never thought you’d like. I personally tried hot yoga for the first time and despite being the only 20-something male there, I had an incredible time. It was a really great experience and one I want to continue for a long time.
- Cut out unnecessary time wasters that make spending time with family or friends feel like they’re wasting your time. Specifically, social media. We spend so much time on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc. throughout the day and right before bed. If we cut down social media use during study sessions and wasting free time aimlessly scrolling then we’ll find ourselves with ample time to do significant things in life. You know that hour of sleep you get during daylight savings? Imagine that every night! Just don’t watch YouTube videos that no one needs or scrolling through Instagram for ages (Unless it’s on my profile @premed.plus).
- Continuation of the last one- make sure you get good sleep! Sleep at the same time. Wake up at the same time. Every. Day. Your body needs a routine in order to thrive and it won’t do that when you pull all-nighters and feed it tacos and Mountain Dew.
All in all, living a balanced lifestyle will benefit you in both the short and long term. As a med student and beyond you’ll thank yourself for being able to budget time and have different reliable stress relieving activities. If you’d like to list some of the things you do to balance your medical lifestyle leave them in the comments below!
About the Author:
We’re PreMedPlus, a business oriented towards helping the next generation of doctors. We offer academic advise, productivity tips, and warn of common premed pitfalls on our Instagram page. On our Facebook page we offer personalized services for those who want one-on-one attention from a team of MD students. We know that being a premed is expensive and exhausting so we strive to make ourselves as affordable, accessible, and efficient as possible! Whether you want to enroll in our personal statement service or simply listen to how we got into medical school we’re happy to have you for either!
If you would like to contribute please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org