If you go through things like SDN or r/medicalschool, it can paint a pretty scary picture of med school. You see that pretty much every post on these platforms is about students being depressed, burnt out, and socially isolated. While every medical student goes through these feelings at one point or another, it is important to control what we can. Having read this stuff, I was scared about going to med school because I felt like I was signing away my youth to studying and working and I’d miss out on the fun you’re “supposed” to have in your 20s. While you may not be able to drop everything and go travel when you feel like it (like your favourite instagram influencer), you can certainly have a good time in medical school. We have tons of social events, with multiple cohorts of classes joining in on the fun. It will take initiative on your part, but you can certainly enjoy your time in medical school.
1) Manage your time
Whether it means waking up earlier, or not going to class and studying our way, managing your time is very important. In the first two years, other than mandatory sessions, you have a lot of control over your schedule. Get the work you need to get done, finished in an efficient manner. Make a schedule for the week every Sunday and review it daily as you get things done. Obviously during exam weeks, you’ll have less time to socialize but that’s just part of the deal. No one likes to wake up early but this can also help maximize efficiency and prepare you for residency hours.
2) Don’t mix work and play
When it’s time to work, work. When it’s time to play, play. Don’t be doing flashcards while listening to the new Drake album or watching a lecture while trying to have coffee with a friend. If you try to mix the two, you will do neither well. You’ll end up “studying” inefficiently and not completely relaxing and having fun either. Have a set time for work, and a set time for play and be fully present in each.
3) Post-exam shenanigans
Our school almost always has a student-organized post-exam block party. Accompanying this is the usual festive events like Halloween Parties, Christmas parties etc. For those that aren’t into partying, there are also events like Paint Night, board games, intramurals, band performances etc. Sometimes it can be appealing to just relax and call it in after an exam, but try to take the leap and go have fun. These are the memories you will look back on someday so try and get out there and have a good time with your classmates, in whatever way you’re comfortable with.
If you’re not into the events your classmates are doing, then go outside of med school. Do some hobbies that you used to, or better yet find a group outside of med school to do it with. Depending on your city, there will be yoga studios, dance classes, music, hiking clubs you name it. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have time for this stuff but unless you make time for it now, you won’t ever have time for it. Again, study efficiently and manage your time wisely so you can enjoy free time doing what you love. Pursuing hobbies outside of med school not only gives you a relaxing, fun time but is also something you can share on your residency application. It also shows that you are a fun, balanced person that people would enjoy interacting and working with. I love cycling so I got a couple of my buddies from class and we joined a cycling club in the city. We go for rides at least twice a month and it’s a great break from everything. It’s also very nice to socialize with people who aren’t in medicine and talk about things other than exams and matching to residency.
5) Make time for family and old friends
Don’t forget your undergrad or childhood friends just cause you’re in medical school. They, along with your family helped you to get here and shaped who you are as a person. Make sure to give them a call often and laugh and reminisce about old memories. It can take your mind off school and the stresses of the future and take you back to “normal” life. Try not to use this as complaining time about your med school stresses as everyone has their own issues to deal with. If you can go back home often, try to do so. I’m lucky enough that my school is a 4 hour train ride away from home so I try to go back at least once a month.