May 23, 2016

5 Tips for Achieving Work-Life Balance in Medical School

5 Tips for Achieving Work-Life Balance in Medical School

Today’s guest post comes from Vera Marie Reed, a writer who specializes in education and careers: 

If you’re considering medical school, you’ll need to learn how to achieve work-life balance. It’s essential. With its heavy workloads and intensive training, medical school can take a toll. To survive and, who knows, even enjoy the experience, you’ll need to develop a strategy to juggle medical school and your personal life.

Here are 5 tips to make the experience endurable.

1. Make Strategic Adjustments
U.S. News & World Report described how one group of first-year medical school students prized their active lifestyles so much that they went to the gym together at 5 am, got to class by 8 am, studied in the afternoon and into the early evening, then got to bed by 9 so they could get enough sleep to repeat the process. The lesson here, of course, is that a few adjustments here and there—and a little self-discipline–can work wonders.

2. Leverage Technology
While nothing can quite replace actually being in the same room with someone you care about, technology can at least give your med school some semblance of normalcy. Video chats via Skype, Facetime or Google Hangouts sure beat a disembodied voice on the other end of a landline and can help you stay in touch with those who matter most in your life.

3. Schedule Everything
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for medical school is to focus on managing your time properly. That means doing some serious scheduling, writing tasks and deadlines down, and sticking with your schedule as best you can. Some tips from Johns Hopkins University to help you schedule effectively include:

● Create a weekly to-do-list
● Prioritize your tasks
● Break up large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks
● Write down objectives and deadlines for deliverables
● Honestly evaluate how much time you waste (and make the necessary changes)

4. Manage Stress
You can also achieve balance in med school by steering clear of stress overload, which can manifest itself as anxiety attacks, moodiness, and depression. Ways to deal with severe stress include:
● Exercising regularly (see Tip No. 1 above)
● Adopting relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and meditation
● Talking to someone you trust (see Tip No. 2 above)

5. Tap Your Support Network
Don’t hesitate to let those you care about know about your heavy workload. When you keep them in the loop, they’ll be much less likely to take offense at your decreased availability. And because you’ve warned them of your new time demands, they may be there for you when you need them most.
Medical school will be a handful no matter how prepared and driven you are. Making an effort to maintain work-life balance will help you have a real life outside the classroom – and the perspective and health to do your best.