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Medical Student Perspective: Tips on How to Be Healthy in Medical School
We’re the twins, Stacey and Tracey! Being happy and healthy is one of our mottos, so we try to do what we can despite anything that comes our way.
How do you become happy and healthy? That’s what we’re here for! Tracey wrote an article published in the September 2014 IMpact newsletter edition titled “10 Tips on How to Be Happy in Medical School.” Feel free to read and share those tips. After getting lots of positive feedback from around the world, like the Caribbean, Egypt, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Texas, we decided to come up with more tips to help fellow medical students. Here are some ways you can be healthy in different aspects of medical school and beyond. Enjoy!
Be Emotionally Healthy
Smile and be happy (read Tracey’s “Happy” article).
Say “please” and “thank you.” Physicians, professors, patients, and interprofessional staff are all part of your learning, so it’s a nice gesture to let others know you are grateful for allowing them to be a part of your learning experience.
Reward yourself. After an exam, a challenging week, or being on call, it’s nice to relax. Examples of how you can treat yourself include a massage, karaoke, laser tag, and sleep!
Build a tough skin. Although we would like to think that everyone has some good in them that is not always the case. Some people may have a negative personality and may say hurtful or embarrassing things to you. Don’t let negative people get to you. Realize it may happen, mentally prepare yourself if it does happen, stay professional in the heat of the moment (easier said than done!), and don’t take it personally. If need be, talk about the incident with someone you trust.
Be Physically Healthy
Munch healthily. Be aware of what you’re eating, and keep healthy snacks around. All that studying requires some good food to keep you going.
Exercise. Although it is ideal to get about 30 minutes of exercise every day, not everyone can keep to that schedule. So integrate exercise into your day. Take the stairs. During breaks, brisk walk with a friend, do yoga, or do 5-minute exercises on YouTube. When you need to go to the bathroom, use the bathroom at least a floor above. If watching a video, stand up and walk in place. Some exercise is better than none. And, if you have time, definitely do some cardio, strength exercises, powerlifting (like us!), sports, etc., to keep your body moving.
Sleep. A good night’s sleep helps in memory, energy, and quality of life.
Be Academically Healthy
Promote a nurturing environment. We are all going to be doctors, so start now to foster a supportive and collaborative environment.
Actively study. Whether you take notes, make flashcards, draw diagrams, or teach a classmate, be active in your studying. If you like to study with people, find a group of friends you can rely on and trust.
Be open to asking others for help and offering to help others.
Take study breaks. Smaller and manageable study sessions may help. During those breaks, do something you feel good about, like a walk outside for some sun, a munch break, or quick meditation session.
Be Extracurricularly Healthy
Make time for organizations, projects, events, and hobbies you enjoy but don’t overload you. Balance school with other activities. Don’t feel like you have to constantly study. It is okay to enjoy life, too.
Volunteer. Engaging in community service allows you to give back to others.
Lead. Being a leader does not mean you have to be president. If you can get a leadership position, great! If not, there are other ways to lead. Help with a project, be responsible, and work with others to reach a common goal.
Keep track of your activities, and update your CV with the name of the activity, description, contact person, and number of hours.
Be Socially Healthy
Surround yourself with positive people.
Have a strong support group of family, friends, and mentors.
Follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat others with respect, kindness, and care. If you don’t agree with people, it’s okay, but stay professional. No need for drama. Keep in mind that your personality and reputation will follow you and that people talk.
Be Spiritually Healthy
Meditate and do deep breathing exercises. Close your eyes and take one long, deep breath. Open your eyes. Feel better?
Self reflect. What did you do great today? How can you improve? What are you grateful for?
If your faith is important to you, do what you feel is right for you to keep that spiritual side of you alive.
Be Professionally Healthy
Be involved in interest groups. Go to meetings, attend grand rounds, shadow, research, and volunteer.
Find a mentor. Don’t know any? Be proactive like us and e-mail people you are interested in shadowing or doing research with.
Talk to upperclassmen, residents, and faculty if you need advice. Utilize resources at your school and on the Web. You are not alone.
Work well with others. Be humble, and don’t look down on others because they are not doctors. Medicine is a team sport, and interprofessionalism in patient care is critical. You can learn something from everyone.
Keep your cool and stay professional.
If you found this helpful or know someone who would benefit, please share these tips with them. Feel free to e-mail us to say hello, let us know how our tips have helped you, and suggest future articles. We would love to hear from you!
Until then, good luck on your medical journey. In Spanish, we say, “todo vale la pena” (it will all be worth it), so keep on powering through. And, of course, may you be happy and healthy!
UTMB School of Medicine
Class of 2017
University of Rochester School of Medicine
Class of 2019