With the end of 2014 and almost the whole of 2015 upon us, there is no better time to sit and reflect on the past year and to mentally anticipate the year to come. In this free time, I’ve thought a lot about New Year’s resolutions. Now, I’m not referring to resolutions like losing weight, exercising more, or eating healthier meals. I’m referring to resolutions that are specific to the medical student. We, as medical students, live unique lives that require a different set of resolutions than what are typical of most other people.
Here are my top 5 medical student New Year’s Resolutions:
Resolution #1: Get on a sleep schedule that resembles normal circadian cycling
Medical school really screws up your sleep schedule. Late nights studying coupled with mornings filled with lectures leads to afternoon naps, which leads to sleeping later at night due to the fact that you aren’t tired. This vicious cycle continues throughout medical school, and your suprachiasmatic nucleus is all out of whack. Therefore, the first resolution I propose is to try to sleep at normal hours. Let’s face it, those hours of studying after 11 PM aren’t really that productive anyway. You’re probably better off going to sleep so that you’re rested for the next day’s study marathon.
Resolution #2: Preview material before the lecture
I feel as if this resolution is something everyone has already tried. Personally, I tell myself that I will preview material before every new block. I am even successful for a little while, usually keeping up the trend for the first few days of the course. However, like all things that are too good to be true, this habit usually falls by the wayside after “life” (read: laziness) catches up to me. Therefore, the second resolution is to make a conce rted effort to preview material before the lecture. The chances that this is successful throughout the entirety of the next semester are low, but you should humor yourself for a little while at least.
Resolution #3: Do more outside of school
We know medical school takes most of our time. We come into medical school all but expecting as much. However, that does not mean you shouldn’t do other things outside of school, for both your physical and mental health. I’m talking about things you do for yourself that have no direct affect on your professional life. If you enjoy cooking, you should cook more. If you enjoy sports, you should play or watch more. If you enjoy any other hobby imaginable, pursue that as well. Pursuing such endeavors may decrease your studying and professional development time, but it will also prevent burnout and increase happiness.
Resolution #4: Get out into the community
Ok, this one is kind of a continuation of the last one. But, I felt this recommendation was too important to not have its own category. One thing I think many medical students feel is that while they live in a certain place during medical school, they never really come to know that place because they are always studying or at the hospital. We, as students, need to get more in touch with the communities we serve in a non-medical way. Volunteer at local shelters, kitchens, or churches. Talk to the people that live around you. Explore the city’s historic landmarks. Eat at some of the city’s best restaurants. You may not recognize it now, but there is great value in really knowing and appreciating the nuances of where you live.
Resolution #5: Get Better Every Day
Medical school is an interesting and challenging time in a person’s life. While at times it can be overwhelming, it is important to realize that medical school is a marathon and not a sprint. As such, it is important to focus on getting a little bit better every day. If you get a little better at something every day, you will reach proficiency sooner. This resolution extends not only to your medical life, but to other aspects as well. As long as you get a little bit better every day, no day is wasted.
365-001 time flies by Robert Couse-Baker