It's been 7 months since I entered med. My mind just swirls sometimes thinking how time seemingly went by in a blink of an eye. Yesterday I was scrambling to get into med, and now I'm three months away from finishing my first year. The experience has been an unbelievable, emotional, and challenging mash up of learning, adjustment, and figuring things out-- literally a whole slew of stuff that shook me from inside out.
By now I think I've comfortably adjusted to the demands of med school. Comfortable enough to figure out how to tackle never-ending school work, and to fit in time for rest, family and friends. Perhaps the biggest challenge to any med student is to learn how to prioritize among the many things that all NEED to get done. During my first months, the overwhelming amount of school work often left me catatonic and confused. It's the same thing as one panicking in the midst of fire. You either end up running aimlessly or remain glued to where you are.
Surviving in med is not about being the most intelligent. It's about being well adjusted and knowing how to focus and prioritize. You may have the whole day to do a report in Biochemistry but that doesn't mean you can't squeeze in an hour or two to read a chapter in Physiology.
I never fully realized the value of time until med. Before I would complain of having too much in my plate, but then I would sleep a full eight hours and reserve time for siesta. Now I consider myself extremely blessed to even have five hours of doze off time. I realize you can never really know what you're capable of until you put yourself to the extremes of possible. Time has always been finite, the challenge is how to maximize it.
I'm not saying the world should adapt the 'med-student' work-like-a-horse lifestyle, or our unhealthy sleeping habits. And putting things in perspective, it's not about having a 25th or 26th hour. It's about learning how to work effectively; accomplish the most important tasks first and know that 30 minutes is worth so much once devoted to the right activities. Indeed, not everything that can be done, ought to be done. And perfectionism, while ideal, will rarely allow you to finish anything.
I'm practically just recycling old wisdom here. Do things as soon as you can and give it your best effort so you won't have to do it over again. Med taught me, or perhaps forced me to imbibe the tenets of Time Management 101. Having focus is probably worth as half as having time itself. Facebook is great but how often has it helped us finish a paper due tomorrow?
And it's not just about school work. Being the alpha female that I am, I went through a personality overhaul realizing that I can only accomplish so much on my own. I remember being told during my interview for PLM-CM that doctors work in teams and it would be rare to encounter one who relies on himself alone. Friends and the help of others are invaluable. As much as rest is. But I'll save that for a later post.
Posting at two months interval is glaringly telling of what has been going lately. I sincerely want to thank everyone who has remained followers of this blog and especially NMAT takers who have left me nice messages of thanks. I really really appreciate it. I hope we may all see each other in the future as colleagues and I wish you all well on your journey as med students.
(It's nice to be all whimsical about time management. But in crude detail, things that helped me are David Allen's Getting Things Done (Google Getting Things Done) and Cal Newport's Study Hacks.