What’s the one thing most premeds lack?

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By: PreMedPlus

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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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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).

  4. 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!

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Lifelong Mentorship

[Editor’s Note: This guest post was submitted by Jesse Tran who is a current PGY4 EM resident who is an avid reader of personal finance outside of world of EM. Currently trying to introduce financial literacy as standard education in residency. Believes in the mantra “A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.”]

Photo courtesy of evergladescisma

A mass of scales, tightly engaged in constricting manner with its fangs latched onto the owner’s terrified upper lip. The 8-foot Burmese python had unsuspectedly sized up its prey for the last several days, denying any form of feed from its owner. Before going to bed, the owner, a middle aged female, came to perform the nightly ritual of kissing her snake to sleep. Tonight, however, she was met with a return kiss followed by a vice like grip around the neck. With swift action, the owner was able to introduce her left arm into the mixture before it complete coiled around, giving her a barrier from complete suffocation. My attending, Dr. “Awesome,” came in with no hesitation, injected the snake with several milliliters of Succinocholine and with a serrated kitchen knife he preceded to cut the snakes head off. The listless head then began to release its fangs and fell to the ground. All this unfolded while I was an ER scribe, trauma room 2 to be exact. This and many more similar experiences helped solidify my resolve to become an EM physician.

            The power of mentorship is not to be trifled with, as over the years your professional relationships can help you navigate the new world ahead of you. As I progressed through medical school, the thoughts of which specialty I would pursue changed several times within the first 2 years of didactic education. You only have so much finite time in your premed years to experience the wide breadth of medicine. My exposure was mainly the ER. I knew nothing of operating room, primary care clinic or birthing center.  Though obtaining a glimpse of several specialties during my 3rd year clinical rotations did help me and probably the vast majority of my classmates solidify their decision into what residency fit them.

            To this day I still reach out to Dr. “Awesome” and along the way, I’ve developed strong relationships with my attendings to further facilitate life beyond medicine. My ultimate goal is to reach a life where I can live without the constraints that would inhibit my long term happiness. There are several things that must be done to obtain a good mentor:

  1. Have a strong passion or curiosity for the potential goal you want to pursue.
  2. Find a mentor who embodies the qualities that make them stand out to you.
  3. Ask questions.
  4. Get involved.

That relentless move to better yourself and avoid the prior mistakes of your predecessors will help you avoid the pitfall of having to correct your mistakes whether that saves you time or grief. We as a group are here to support the future medical professionals by becoming a resource for your ultimate goals.

Who is your mentor(s)? Comment down below or contact us for any questions.