School-life Balance: Achievable?

Medical school reality.

Photo by Leslie Reagan Bodin on Unsplash

hen getting into medical school was just a dream, it seemed like the ultimate goal. But once we got in, the excitement fades and you are left to wonder if there is more beyond those mountains of books and atlases.

The field of medicine can consume you.

It takes up a lot more of your life than you would imagine. Most people told me to prepare to give up any semblance of social life because ultimately I would have none.

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There is some truth in this as this is the path that many medical students ultimately take.

Now a look at the road least-traveled: work-life balance.

Is this an attainable goal? Or should we pack it up with our dreams of having straight-A’s in university?

There are tonnes of modules to be gotten through as well as mountains of information. What is expected of every student is very high and these expectations just keep piling up. In the beginning, theoretical work is more prevalent and it may be possible to stay on top of things.

Even this can become overwhelming and life becomes assignments, projects, school, repeat. Lessons can be 8 to 5 but studying can take the bulk of time.

Burnout is real.

This is what many students come to realize. Barely sleeping, eating or resting leads to burnout. While many achieve it, it is almost impossible to attain perfect grades. And those who do often need to crucify other parts of their lives to do it.

Medical students have alarming rates of depression and suicide.

This is ironic when you consider that these institutions are full of the most people who have the information and resources to take such problems on.

In medical school, it is basically a combination of the strongest and brightest students. Hence, competition is crazy-high and it is not advised to show weakness. Medical school students are like sharks. They can smell fear from afar. Just joking but in truth, it is kill or be killed. Or this is what it seems. Showing weakness or seeking help is often seen as a sign that you do not belong there. And this can shatter a person’s confidence even further.

This is why most students most often do not seek help.

Balance is a necessity.

Medical school may finish but education never stops. Every patient or case is different and some reading is needed prior to it. Hence, if you wait until it finishes, life may pass you buy. Friends and family are very important and can provide a much-needed support network. These relationships needed to be nurtured as well if not more than your Gray’s anatomy textbook.

Medical school provides the perfect grounds for preparation for a career in medicine. If you cannot conquer balance in those first crucial years it will follow you.

It is important to have a ‘thing’.

Some hang out. Some watch movies. Some create art.

I have seen that this goes a long way in helping students to cope. Having an after-school activity allows time where you are not involved with schoolwork. It can be refreshing and allows an outlet for all the strain and stress.

You do not have to be the next Leonardo da Vinci but you never know what hidden talents you could uncover.

And the wonders it does for your mental health are so worth it.

Self-care is important.

While knowing the names of all the 206 bones in the human body can be challenging, cleaning your place can be the real struggle. Going to the gym, bathing, eating healthy, this can go a long way to keeping your piece of mind. If it feels like you are in control, you will be.

Letting go of perfection.

This does not mean be sloppy because human lives are on the line. Literally. But you have to remember that you are only human too and not everything is going to be perfect. Not your life, not your grades, not your diet. And that’s not a bad thing. You can always get better. Medical school is the place to make mistakes and get a do-over. You have to give yourself some credit. You have made it this far.

All the little things.

Each achievement is a victory no matter how small. It is worth that reward of watching that movie you’ve been meaning to. Enjoy those little things, they keep you going during the difficult times.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Most importantly, seek help when you need it. Professional or otherwise. There are people who have been down this road and are more than willing to help.

So work-life balance is attainable but it requires conscious effort. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.

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Rayne Murray

No one’s paying attention so why are we still afraid to talk... 🤔 Writer | Blogger | Human