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Work-life balance is something constantly sought after by medical students around the world. Many believe that the only way to truly succeed in medical school is to achieve the perfect work-life balance. Some create schedules and elaborate timetables, others follow specific systems such as “The Rule of 8: 8 hours work, 8 hours sleep, and 8 hours of personal time”. However, there are some (if not most) medical students that simply go with the flow.
Right before I entered medical school in 2019, my eagerness to start the course left me asking everyone I met how I should achieve my work-life balance. Medical school, to me, was portrayed as a menacing figure in my mind. Towering over me with the one goal of taking over my life. This left me anxious as to how I would achieve this balance I yearned for. However, after completing three years of medical school, I have come to several realizations:
1. Medical school is not as menacing as the stereotypes put it out to be.
Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely a challenge and a massive commitment. However, it is achievable for everyone who sets their mind to it. The “impossibility” of getting into medical school, and successfully becoming a doctor, is simply not true. Consistency in the field, partnered with determination and passion, are the keys to meeting all the goals you have set out for yourself.
2. There is no such thing as the perfect work-life balance.
There is no ideal template that has been elaborately made for you to achieve your perfect work-life balance. In my experience, I believe that a healthy and productive balance can be achieved by trial and error, consulting experienced individuals in your field, and most importantly doing what works for you. I’m sure it goes without saying that no one knows you better than you. Early on in my course, I attempted to follow all my favorite YouTube medicine guru’s “ultimate guide to work-life balance”, but they all simply did not work for me. I realized this and just started going with the flow. Eventually, I found a “system” that worked for me halfway through my second year! And so this leads me to my next point:
3. These things take time.
Patience is key here. Expecting yourself to find the perfect study schedule, social circle and hobbies to compliment your endeavor to becoming a doctor overnight cannot happen. The best things, and the most solid systems, take time to achieve. And even then, they may not be perfect. Even starting my fourth year I have had to make continuous adjustments to my “system”. Basically, what I’m trying to convey here is, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t figure things out immediately!
The path to becoming a doctor can be quite overwhelming if you set such expectations for yourself. Allow yourself time to breathe and unwind, and always maintain an optimistic outlook towards what you set out to do in your life.