Chronicles of a Med Student: Drinking from a Fire Hydrant

Last Updated on June 26, 2022 by Laura Turner

For the past several years, I felt like all I heard was everyone in medical school telling me how hard it is. I was a little worried, especially since I took a year off of school. How would I have the capacity to study anymore? Heck, I was used to spending my weekends and evenings lazing around, watching TV, and overall doing as I pleased. And now all of a sudden, I was expected to sit with my feet bolted to the floor staring at a computer screen with words like infundibular recess screaming at me for 9 hours a day. There was no way. All kinds of thoughts crossed my mind: I would lose all of my friends, gain weight from sitting around all day, and generally go insane.

I walked in determined to not let any of that happen, and that has made all the difference in the world. Many of the rumors about medical school are true: the information comes at you at an alarmingly fast rate, you are expected to absorb said information at an equally fast rate, and it is absolutely overwhelming. In the first week of learning new material alone, we had covered an entire dense 100-page chapter from one of our books. The lectures literally threw information in our faces and expected us to make sense of it all. Very scary. But there are also many things that are not true! There is a way out of this craziness! Everyone just has to find their vibe. I was afraid of not having enough time to do anything but study. Though I was fully prepared for this, it turned out that I actually had some semblance of a life: I was able to spend some time making healthy food for myself (which I very much enjoy doing and having this time to relax built-in to my day was a huge relief), working out, talking to my boyfriend and family, and most importantly, SLEEPING! I have never pulled an all-nighter in my entire academic career, and not even medical school will get in the way of my clean record. All it takes is a little time management! I know it’s much easier said than done, but I do have some tips to make it easier to handle:
1. I put studying first. This is after all why I’m here, and honestly, since this is something that I’m passionate about, it doesn’t really feel like studying. I always keep in mind that I’m building my career this way.
2. That being said, I make sure to carve out time for things I love doing! I just make sure it’s around my study time. I love to paint, read (although this might be placed on the back burner since all I do now is read—albeit medical textbooks vs. Sophie Kinsella novels), and work out. If you don’t make time for things other than studying, it equates to going on a diet and depriving yourself of the foods you crave. Eating little morsels every day will help build a sustainable lifestyle.
3. Eat well! When someone first suggested this to me, I underestimated its importance. But it really does work. I’ve noticed ever since I graduated college that I cannot handle junk food as well as I used to. It physically affects me and makes me feel downright crappy. And no one wants to study when they are feeling crappy, right? This is what prompted me to cook the majority of my meals at home. I can incorporate lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and protein, and save precious dimes along the way!
I treat medical school like a 9-5 job. I make sure to study, study, and study some more during “work hours” and spend my evenings indulging in my interests, spending time with friends, and just relaxing. It doesn’t happen every day because after all, medical school is medical school, but I do try. I probably sound like I follow the philosophy of some crazed life-coach but I use all of these in my everyday life, and I’m happy to report that I am a happy, healthy, thriving medical student!