How to Manage Your Time in Medical School
Medical school is tough. You can easily be overwhelmed by the vast amounts of material to learn and the long days in lectures or on placement. So how do you cope?
Why am I writing this blog?
Just several months ago I started Medical School and was bombarded with a workload that I don’t think anyone is accustomed to, not until they’re actually at medical school anyways. Handing in essays, making extra time to revise so that I could keep up to date with current lectures, all whilst maintaining some resemblance of a social life really made the first few weeks a whirlwind.
Now that I’m ‘settled in’ I can say that one key thing has allowed me to be both a medical student and a normal, social young adult – time management.
Without time management, medical school can really trap you within the 4 walls of your study space, which isn’t the best for your mental health or your overall university experience (speaking from my own experience of semester 1!).
So here are my personal tips on managing time at medical school:
Try and form a study/work group of fellow medical students to split the lecture content up with. This might need some work, in order to find the people you can actually work with, in terms of their style of notes/flashcards and how reliable they are. Once you have found a good group it will provide you with more time to digest the lecture content, especially if there are difficult concepts that might need further research or a discussion with the lecturer. You’ll also have more time to relax and recalibrate, as well as do extra-curriculars. However, I would like to stress the fact that you should still attend all the lectures yourself and check your peers’ notes/flashcards so that they include all the content that you could be assessed on.
Wake up at a sensible time every day, even on those days when for example you only have 2 lectures in the afternoon. This will help you be more productive and your day-to-day routine will be more consistent. This in particular is a very hard thing to maintain, because everyone loves a lie-in. However, save the lie-ins for the weekend, and ensure your weekdays are optimised for medical school work, revision, extra-curriculars, etc.
Know when to stop working. Usually at college we were able to tell ourselves that “after I’ve finished this assignment I’ll go to bed” or words to that effect. At medical school, this habit can eat into our social lives and extra-curriculars. Fair enough, for exams and doing an assignment last minute (something that I don’t advocate!) a late night might be needed. But for things other than that, knowing when to stop working allows us to do the other things that are important to us, such as hanging out with friends, calling family or going for a run. Doing these other things will in turn help us freshen up to continue working the following day.
Have an idea of how the day ahead will pan out, whether that’s planning it in your diary the night before, or making a rough schedule in your head whilst eating breakfast – everyone has their own way. This will help you systematically complete tasks and maintain some sort of order. At medical school this is really important, because you might find yourself with a spare hour or two between lectures so planning whether you’re going to be spending this time going for a coffee with a fellow medic, napping, revising or catching up on work really helps you keep on top of things.
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