If you’re considering medical school, I recommend that you think about it thoroughly — but the fact that you’re reading this suggests that you already are. I believed I wanted to be a doctor since it was a boyhood goal of mine… until I started working in the area and discovered a living nightmare. Just joking! Medical school isn’t nearly as frightening as many people believe. Once you’ve found a way of life that works for you, the years ahead can be enjoyable and memorable.

My days as a medical student were colorful until the COVID-19 virus pushed the Philippines into mandatory lockdown. I was a “eager beaver,” or as psychologists refer to it, a “type-A personality.” I created a timetable and set of rules in my thoughts for how my day would go from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep, and I attempted to stick to it to the letter.

Pre-COVID – My Medical School Schedule

Don’t forget to arrive on time for your classes. My mornings would start with getting ready at 5 a.m. and leaving at 6 a.m. Because traffic in the Philippines is among the worst in the world, departing any later than 6 a.m. would have me an hour late for my 8 a.m. class. Typically, lecturers will begin with crucial topic introductions, and if you miss the beginning, the rest of the lecture will be difficult to follow and a complete fog.

Get your day off to a good start. I get to school at 7 a.m. and slumber until someone invites me to join them for morning coffee at Starbucks. Many of my students would walk into class with their Grande Caffè Americanos in hand or be eating breakfast in the cafeteria. Because I don’t drink coffee, I listen to music in the morning to get me going like a morning jog, because medical school is a marathon. Make certain to discover what works greatest for you!

Attend the lectures or at the very least stay awake. Once the lecture begins, it’s important to grab anything you can use to take notes with, as this will help you stay alert. Be prepared for packed and fast-paced lectures, whether you’re using a notebook, iPad, or laptop. I know it’s tempting to nod off or doze off during these lectures, but the material you’ll learn will aid you as a doctor or if the lecturer administers a pop quiz at the conclusion.

Take use of your free time. When the room becomes noisier after the lecture because some students are waking up from their naps, you know it’s break time. Make the most of your time in medical school because it isn’t all lectures and on-the-go memorization. There is a life outside of academics at this school, as it is at all schools. You can check on your extracurriculars or meet with classmates for group projects. I spend my breaks with my pals, discussing about everything from medical school to our personal life. All of these things are necessary steps in becoming the doctor you want to be.

There’s Always Something to Do After School

Take advantage of every opportunity to learn. I go to the library to study after my classes conclude at 5 p.m. I normally study in a group with friends or acquaintances. Even if I won’t talk to them most of the time, having someone there to assist you when you’re having trouble understanding anything is beneficial. In medical school, unlike in college, there is never enough to learn. It will always feel as if there is more to learn, and that feeling is most likely correct.

Get into a study groove. It’s been suggested that memorising material requires three read-throughs to fully absorb it. Personally, I study using Anki flashcards created from my class notes and the book (1st read). Then, on my 9 p.m. commute home, I go through the flashcards until they’re full (2nd read), no matter where I am. Finally, when I arrive home about 10 p.m., I go over my notes again, marking any information that I didn’t remember from my flashcards (3rd read). Every day, I go over the cards from the previous days in preparation for the following exam. It’s important to note that not all processes work for everyone, but this one did for me. We live in the twenty-first century, when we have access to online libraries, mobile apps, and simple tutorial videos to make information absorbing much easier.

All you have to do now is figure out what works best for you. Recognize when you need to take a break. It’s pointless to study if you’re exhausted. It’s important to figure out what gets you back into the swing of things before it affects your marks, but it’s also fine to spend a night or two a week doing nothing related to medical school. Friday and Sunday nights are usually when I go out with friends or stay at home and rest. Even if I am studying for hours on end, I still find time to do the things I enjoy in between. It is preferable to study intelligently rather than hard.

Sleep is crucial. I normally finish my study quota and get ready for bed before the clock strikes midnight. My sleeping routine is not recommended. Because I live 14 kilometers away, I have to stick to this timetable.

Finally, at the end of the day…

It doesn’t matter if you study for five hours or one hour per day, as long as it suits you. Everyone has a unique learning style that they develop during the course of their medical school careers. Some of my peers simply study in class and spend their free time at home playing video games, while others, like me, stick to a rigid schedule. After all, you’ll want to go to bed feeling content with a hard day’s work and eager for more the next day.

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