Finding Life Outside Medical School Part 1

7:49:00 AM



Medical school is demanding but that doesn't mean medical students have no life outside medicine. There are actually a lot of organizations in medical school that provide opportunities for medical students to pursue their crafts and interests. Extracurricular activities do not just prevent medical school burnout but also expand the experiences of medical students beyond their medical school education. Despite the demands of medical school, medical students still find ways to make time for activities that mean a lot to them. Just remember to still pursue your interests. Do not give up on the things that you love just because of medical school. These things are critical in surviving the stresses of medical school. You just have to find your balance. Here are some of my classmates in medical school who still find time to pursue their interests. Let us learn some of the best ways to achieve a balance between extracurricular activities and academics once you are a medical student

Lester Ngo (BS Public Health, UPCM Class 2020)

1. What extracurricular activities do you do while in medical school? What benefits do you get from these extracurricular activities?

Regular exercise, includes going to the gym and jogging; monthly adventure like hiking, wall climbing, boxing and Muay Thai. These activities make me sane from the insanity in med school, stress reliever due to the increase endorphins (happy hormone) and adrenaline rush (more energy to stay happy in med and increased attention and focus while studying). Including regular exercise in my daily schedule allows me to plan my time wisely so I can finish a lot of academic work (I really need to study efficiently so I can have extra time for my work out), it makes me happy, a very great detox from all the stress med brings, most importantly, it keeps me physically and mentally healthy and fit while in medical school.

2. How do you balance your extracurricular activities and medical school? 

TIME MANAGEMENT and DISCIPLINE, even mountains can’t stop a determined man, med school may really be time consuming but you can still do other things outside medicine if you have proper time management which includes planning in advance the things you need to finish and sticking to do it with discipline. I personally have a planner and big calendar where I plan my days, making sure no time is wasted and is used wisely. I am very time oriented, in a sense that I want all things planned so I can do all the things that I want. Lastly, one should be goal oriented and disciplined with it. We all enter med school because we all want to be great doctors, but we can’t be at our full potential if we are weak physically and mentally to the point of just dragging ourselves to finish med school. We need a form of stress releasing activities and more social activities. For me, exercise and physically inclined adventures are great avenues to destress. 

3. Any advice to those medical students planning to pursue extracurricular activity while in medical school?

Find what makes you happy (aside from our eagerness to become great doctors in the future), try and explore new things every now and then (you won’t know if you like something unless you try and experience it yourselves), don’t be afraid to go beyond your limits (the mind will always be stronger to do things we are determined to do), tag along your friends and try different physical activities (exercise and at the same time bonding moments). Lastly, don’t let med school stop you from being healthy and doing the things you love.

Michelle Eala (INTARMED, UPCM Class 2020)

1. What extracurricular activities do you do while in medical school? What benefits do you get from these extracurricular activities?

I run! I love running. I did my first half-marathon in first year med, did another one during second year, and I’m hoping to do a full marathon next year. There are so many benefits you get from running. First, you get to tick that WHO recommendation to have 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week. I think that as future doctors we should practice what we preach to our patients, and running is one way to do that. 

In terms of physical health, running helps you to stay in shape and improve cardiovascular fitness. But I think one benefit that some people don’t realize is its positive effect on mental health. More and more people are talking about mental health, and as medical students, we know all too well how stressful the academic workload and hospital duties can be. Running helps me deal with that. Running is a way for me to take a break from it all and to clear my head, and after a run, I find myself feeling refreshed and ready to take on the challenges ahead. And if that isn’t enough to convince you to run, you should know that running also helps you study! Because it helps clear the mind, I often find that I absorb information better after having gone for a run. #studytip

2. How do you balance your extracurricular activities and medical school? 

I currently run 2-3x every week, and on some days, I to do strength training at home or in the gym. I’m passing 2nd year med so far, so yes, it is possible to balance running with medical school! My number one tip would be to plan your workouts ahead of time. Every Sunday, I look at the schedule for the week, I check when exams and deadlines will be, and based on that, I plot the days when I will go for a run. Having a schedule to follow motivates me to stick to it, and the discipline I’ve learned from running regularly has helped me to be disciplined in other things, like studying medicine. 

3. Any advice to those medical students planning to pursue extracurricular activity while in medical school?

“Make time for the things you love” applies to medical students, too. I love running and it’s important to me, so I do make time for it. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in medicine and taking care of our patients that we forget to take care of ourselves. Aim for work-life balance! Make it a point to have an outlet or a means to take a break from all the stress of medical school. Of course, coming from me, I’d highly recommend a run J

Paul Miguel Perez (BS Biology, UPCM Class 2020)

1. What extracurricular activities do you do while in medical school? What benefits do you get from these extracurricular activities?

My extracurricular activities include choreographing and dancing for the UP MedRhythmics (MRX), playing for the college varsity basketball team, organizing class get-togethers and miscellaneous activities as Internals Head, and participating in the events and advocacies of the Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity. The former two fuel my passions and provide me with an outlet or escape from the daily grind of medical school. I have yet to find an activity that can match the exhilaration and sheer jubilation of competing and better yet, winning. The latter two create avenues for me to develop leadership and social skills, and also expose me to a myriad of people who will eventually become my colleagues. Moreover, they provide me with opportunities to serve outside the classroom setting, which for me greatly enhances the learning experience.

2. How do you balance your extracurricular activities and medical school? 

As we all discover in medicine, time is finite. No matter how strong your will to stay awake and study is, you will still have to take that exam, at 8am, ready or not. Thus, advanced planning is absolutely crucial. For instance, before the start of each week, I fill my planner with schedules, events, and reminders to properly allocate my time. Although I rarely accomplish everything, doing this really helps me to prioritize and prevents unanticipated work from piling up. Another adaptive measure I’ve developed in medical school is dividing the work whenever possible. Studying medicine is not a solitary endeavor; most of the job description involves working together with peers in accomplishing papers, reports, and the like. Admittedly, I don’t often take the leadership role in these activities, but I always strive to make my part of the output as complete and comprehensive as possible. As I said, it is important to choose your battles because time is not always on your side. Keep organized and prioritize.

3. Any advice to those medical students planning to pursue extracurricular activity while in medical school?

Try to know yourself first. If you’re the type of person who easily gets frazzled when schedules overlap, then maybe you need a low-commitment extracurricular activity, if any at all. Second is to find your niche. Do you really enjoy the activity or does stress so easily tip the scales? Does it give you a sense of accomplishment and make your feel proud of yourself? One of the important questions I’d ask myself is whether I’d enjoy the company of the people I’d be directly interacting with. You can infer this simply by observing the way they interact with each other. The concept of having a “family” or “team” plays a major role in maintaining my drive to persevere in my extracurricular activities. It is so much more rewarding to know that your fatigue, sleepless nights, and sacrifices count towards achieving success that is shared among people you care about. To quote the words of Cyrus Bumanglag (MRX President ’16-‘17), “I joined for the dance, but I stayed for the people.”

Maria Victoria Cu (BS Biology, UPCM Class 2020)

1. What extracurricular activities do you do while in medical school? What benefits do you get from these extracurricular activities? 

I started training Capoeira when I was in my second year of college. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines fight moves like kicks and escapes, acrobatics and music. For someone like me who gets bored with repetitive cardio exercises and gym routines, Capoeira has served as a great avenue for me to stay active, burn those extra calories and get that much-needed endorphins. Through Capoeira, I learned a lot about Afro-Brazilian history and culture. I learned how to play the berimbau (a musical instrument used in Capoeira), some Portuguese songs and a few Portuguese sentences. I also gained a lot of friends from different walks of life who share the same love and passion for Capoeira. I remember in one of my med school interviews back in college, I was asked to demonstrate a few moves in my dress! Haha. I guess my interviewer got curious because I talked about Capoeira very passionately.) 

2. How do you balance your extracurricular activities and medical school?

Personally, one of the invaluable things I learned in med school is time management. Yes, there are tons of transcripts to read, infinite number of exams and small group discussions to prepare for, but all these can be done with proper time management. Also, in med school, I learned that there is always time if one is willing to make time for it. 

3. Any advice to those medical students planning to pursue extracurricular activity while in medical school?

Due to the demands of med school, most of us, med students, forget that it is also important to take care of our own well-being. To stay healthy, I believe that it is important to balance work and play. Remember that there is life outside med school. If you have other interests outside of med school, whether it’s sports, music, performing arts, baking, go for it! An hour or two a week wouldn’t hurt.

If you are interested to try Kapoeira, Vic is inviting you to join their group. You can visit their website for more details https://www.facebook.com/kadaracapoeiraphilippines/

Nicolas Robert Tan (BS MBB, UPCM Class 2020)

1. What extracurricular activities do you do while in medical school? What benefits do you get from these extracurricular activities? 

I currently play ultimate Frisbee 1-3x per week (depending on the week’s toxicity). On the side, I play some piano for my youth group, Christ’s Youth in Action. And every so often, I shoot some photos for an event, for a shoot, or just because I want to. While I enjoy these activities, I’ve come to realize that they actually keep me sane. Letting the not-academic parts of my brain take control allows the academic areas to rest – “gate theory” kuno. These are my “detox” methods. 

2. How do you balance your extracurricular activities and medical school?

Practically, I balance these by listening in class and actively taking notes. They say you need to go over study material thrice to absorb it – the lecture serves as my first pass. I usually pick up 50-60% of the content here, filling in the gaps later by reviewing the transcriptions/lecture slides – the second pass. I rationalized that we spend 8 waking hours in the classroom, so why not maximize those so you can use the remaining 10-12 hours* for other things? (*since most med students sleep 4-6 hours, I presume.) I believe that there’s a time and place for everything, so lecture time is learning time. Low yield, read the trans during lecture time (at least naka-1st pass ka na haha).

3. Any advice to those medical students planning to pursue extracurricular activity while in medical school?

I love it on the field, in the band, and behind the lens. And you make time for the things you love. Know your limits though: how much sleep you can give, how many days you can train. And watch out for red flags: decline in health (#lagingpuyat), poor performance in and SGD (or on the stage), forgetting other commitments (#MothersDay) and not-studying. 

“What profit a man if he were to gain to world but lose his soul?” (Mk 8:36) While excellence in academics is praise-worthy, it isn’t everything. I realize na tao rin pala ako (I’m still a human), and I need these extracurricular to keep me from burning out, from becoming a zombie. My grades aren’t shining 80’s and 90’s (or line-of-1’s in the transcript), but I think I’m learning what I need to (I pass the exams naman). It works, and I hope every med student finds that something that works for him/herself too

You Might Also Like

0 comments

Twitter Feed