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Before I started medical school, the thought of what lay ahead was both exhilarating and intimidating. On one hand, I was fearful that I may be stepping into endless cycles of burning the midnight oil studying while on the other hand, I was secretly hoping to star in my own real-life Grey’s Anatomy.
I pondered over how my medical student experience might change as a result COVID-19 - would I be given the same opportunity to engage in hands-on learning or build camaraderie with my peers?
Suffice to say, my first year of medical school has been unlike either of my envisioned scenarios- it’s been better!
Time to wake up! Having always been a morning person, I’ve stuck to this routine through my first year of med school too and it’s served me well. Keeping a consistent sleep-wake cycle (no matter what those times may be for you) is key to getting the most out of your day.
On 5-6 days of the week, I make it a point to start my day with half an hour of exercise (usually pilates or yoga). This helps me freshen up and start my day with more focus.
I take a warm shower and get ready for the day. Before the current lockdown, 3 days a week this meant I would be getting ready to go into campus for my classes. However, currently, all my classes have been online. After getting ready, I make it a point to eat a big and healthy breakfast as I often don’t have time for a morning tea snack.
9am - 1pm:
3 days a week I have tutorials that run in the mornings. These include:
This is when I take a lunch break. When I was on campus, this always meant congregating with a group of friends- either out on South Lawn to soak up the sun or in our medical students common room. If we had an extended break, we jumped at the opportunity to try out new cafes and restaurants in the area. During lockdown however, this is a great time to throw on my current Netflix obsession!
2pm - 5pm:
As first year students, we have a fairly dynamic timetable so additional activities such as labs and extra tutorials may be scheduled on some afternoons. Prior to the lockdown, our anatomy labs would be on campus while all other labs which are more case-based study are conducted over zoom. We are also given 6-10 pre-recorded lectures each week to complete in our own time. I usually watch these lectures in the afternoons at the beginning of the week and use the afternoons of the latter half of the week to revise the content.
I often take an evening walk to get some fresh air and give my eyes a break (because it can often be a lot of screen time!). Sometimes I use this time to listen to a medical podcast and passively revise some content. I might also use this as a time to socialise and meet up with a friend for my walk.
I use this time to prepare dinner and pack my lunch (if I’m heading out) for the next day.
Dinner break- often watching Netflix or engaging in social activities (over zoom during lockdown).
I engage in another hour of study, usually revision of the day’s content or pre-work for the next day’s class. This is usually a low energy study session to cap the day.
By this time I’m starting to wind down and get ready for bed in the next hour. Sometimes this means picking up a book, watching another episode of my favourite TV show or Face timing friends and family.
While there is a lot of content to get through in med school, there is a lot of room for a balanced lifestyle. I’ve found myself engaging in more socialising and picking up hobbies I had dropped as an undergraduate student.
No doubt it can be stressful at times, but having a good routine and taking time to prioritise self-care is integral. After all, in learning to care for others, we must also learn to care for ourselves!