Managing time as a med student

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.


zpc said...

wow it's nice to see you have a new post.
as a med student also, i've already got used to having a maximum of 4-5hrs of sleep a day. my only problem is that since i live with my parents and siblings i get distracted alot and somewhat sad especially when they go out or do fun stuff and i'm left at home studying.
anyway, medschool has taught me so much; not just about science but also about life and it helped me grow as a person. last sem, i thought of quitting medschool but i soon realized that if i always don't finish what i've started i cannot progress and would end up getting support from my parents my whole life that's why i strived to pass my subjects even though i had to take removals for 2 of my subjects. hehehehehe

Thanks again!

Aubrey said...

I also cannot count the times I've thought of quitting. But really I cannot imagine myself in any other profession that's why I'm trudging on. :) We will have more battle scars to earn in the future, so I say we keep the flame of whatever motivation we have going. Aja! Fight!

Anonymous said...

wow! a new post. hehe. it really seems that med school IS tough. Anyways, I'am also an aspiring med student. Already took the NMAT, submitted the empirical papers, and done the interview. Now, I'am painstakingly waiting for the results. I am anticipating a positive outcome! hopefully I can start this roller coaster ride this coming school year. Your blog was really of good aid. thank you so much! =)

Anonymous said...

Hi ate aubrey, I am planning to start med school this june and like you I also wanted to become a surgeon. Tanong ko lang pag nagresidency training ba ang isang doctor meron na siya sweldo?

Anonymous said...

hi ate aubrey,,i've been a follower of your blog entries...i also want to be a doctor,,,i'm currently in my freshmen year in nursing,,,at ngayon palang namomroblema ako kung ipu-pursue ko ang medicine due to my parents' age dahil aasa na naman ako sa pang-tuition ko....

ask ko lang po...madali lang po ba ang nmat and plmat???

Anonymous said...

Hi Aubrey! I've been reading your posts about med school and I don't know if I should say this but I guess there's no harm in doing it so, here it goes. We graduated from the same nursing school and during my second year I frequently saw you in the hallway of Science bldg. Literally, I am afraid of you or rather, I am afraid of your presence but that fear is coupled with admiration. I knew you because some of my friends knew you. I am not surprised to see your name in the Nursing board topnotchers list. Congratulations and sorry for the late remark hehe. Just last week, the faint voice that I am ignoring since I began having my duty days as a student nurse started to earn a very audible decibel. Yes. I cannot see myself as a nurse but a doctor and reading your blog helped me a lot.
My parents do not have enough provisions to send me to a med school so I want to try PLM. Is it really true that a GWA of 2.50 is a crucial requirement for admission? Thanks a lot in advance.

sneakypete said...

I'm taking up medicine next year, and I'm really excited. I should've taken it 2 years ago but after Medical Technology, I took up Nursing. So I have a lot of friends who are in medicine now, who tell me they'll help me with the troubles I come across in med. hehe. Good luck out there.

Anonymous said...

hi ate aubrey,

i'm mae and will take NMAT this april. thanks to your post it inspires me and had imagined being in your position soon.(hopefully) i wish i'm as smart as u :((

jigs_lavarias said...

Good luck to all of you, future MDs! And remember to be a doctor for the poor, since being a doctor is a service indeed and not just a profession. ;)

Aubrey said...

Hi Anonymous. I feel very humbled by what you said. Thank you very much. :)

I just checked our student manual and it says one of the criteria for admission is a 'GWA of 2.50 or its equivalent or better'

Anonymous said... could i have misssed a nice blog as this..really enjoyed reading your at a dilemma on whether to continue to pursue plans of working abroad or take up medicine as most of those posts in here talk not that young either,will be turning 30 this year but still want to serve the country.noble eh?...anyway, was glad to come across this blog, it's somehow helping me decide on which road to traverse....thanks

Leizel Anne said...

Hi Ms. Aubrey. I am currently a third year student at PLM. Are you a med student at PLM? I am also planning to continue studying at PLM and take up medicine. But I haven't got any idea on where and how to inquire for PLM CM. haha. I was wondering if you could help me. I was never that close to med students at school e. haha! By the way, I'm a psychology major and I think its a pre-med naman. I never failed any subjects so I was hoping na I will meet the said requirements for PLM CM. Thank you!