It’s no secret- journeying into medicine is hard. It takes over your life and leaves you wondering if you’ll ever have any energy for your family and friends, much less your hobbies and passions. So how do you balance drinking from the fire hose and exuding compassion for your patients, while keeping food on the table, your sanity in check, and your relationships healthy?
Caveat: I’m not an expert. I wasn’t perfect at any of that. I’m still not perfect. But I do have some pointers that I think really helped!
Schedule time. I’ve touched on this before, but scheduling a bedtime, dates with friends/significant others, religious services, and exercise is key. Just as you wouldn’t call out of work because you’re busy, don’t cancel important life activities to study. You will NEVER feel like you know everything. You will always feel like you could fail a test. That is ok! You’ll never know all of medicine, but you will always need sleep, your friends/family, your faith, your health, etc. Prioritize it.
Meal prep. I started this in PA school and continue to do so now. Planning your meals helps you budget time and money, and makes you less likely to make last minute unhealthy choices. Spend an hour or two on Sunday planning your meals for the week–this goes a long way and will easily give you back an hour each night. Daily burn has a great article on meal hacks to save you time during the week- check it out!
Humor. It’s the little things in life that make you laugh, make memories, and remind you that the world still spins outside of PA school. Don’t forget the value of silliness. Find a comedian you like and follow them on social media. Keep an album of medical memes that describe your frame of mind in perfect satirical fashion. Put the sunglasses on the dog. Whatever it takes to keep your smile muscles working!
Perspective. PA school is a mind game. Nearly everyone fails a test at some point. I failed two exams in my didactic year. Guess what? I still graduated with honors, I still had a job by graduation, and I completed a post graduate fellowship at one of the most prestigious hospitals in the world (Cleveland Clinic Foundation!). Failing a test or two means next to nothing in my book, and says nothing about your potential to be an outstanding PA. Change up your study habits, ask a classmate for help, find video lectures (I love Dr Najeeb!). You’ll pass it the second time and life will go on as if nothing happened. I’ve got a blog post coming of all the ways I “failed” in PA school, including the time a professor told me I was “unteachable” in didactic year. Spoiler alert- none of it mattered.
Keep up the great work and don’t give up. If you feel like you’re getting pummeled by an avalanche with nothing but a fork to dig yourself out… you’re doing this PA school thing right. Keep tackling the challenge with whatever tool you’ve got handy and you WILL make it. You’re a warrior for making it this far, so don’t give up! How do you balance your life in medicine with all the other aspects of you?