5 Ways to Stay Sane as a Premed

By Manasa Davuluri on June 1, 2013

Is there really such a thing called “sanity” for premeds? We’ve all encountered the hardcore type-A kids who’ve wanted to be a doctor since they were a fetus and throw themselves into heavy course loads and extracurriculars to prove their passion. But even for us laid-back physician wannabes, the stress can take its toll. Even if you don’t burden yourself with too much work, the deadlines of the application hang over your head like an impending cloud of doom. Nonetheless, here are five ways to help regain a little sanity.

1. Major in what you love.

This may seem like common sense, but students have often chosen majors based on what med schools want. Although biological sciences is the default, more premeds seem to be gravitating towards non-science majors and living out their real passions. Remember, you’ll have four years in med school to learn all the necessary science info, but you’ve only got one shot to pursue a subject you enjoy in college. Plus, you’ll enjoy your classes so much more and gain confidence from doing well in them; even your difficult pre-reqs won’t seem all that bad with the buffer of a different field. If your heart really does lean towards bio or chemistry, then by all means go for it! Just remember that med schools aren’t going to give you special treatment for majoring in something for them, and they’ll appreciate you for staying true to yourself in the long run.

2. Don’t overload on the activities.

There are a lot of superhuman premeds out there; seriously, they take on a ton of extracurricular responsibilities, manage to succeed in tough courses, and even make time for a full social life. If the rest of us mere mortals attempt to make room for all three aspects and somehow thrive on limited sleep, something will have to go and it usually starts with the sanity. Make sure to always have some chunks in your schedule for breaks. Unless you’re someone who thrives on being busy all the time, take some time to indulge your other interests or just relax and watch TV. It may not seem productive at the time, but your mind will thank you for it later.

3. Study with classmates.

All the social butterflies out there probably have this covered. But I’ve learned that studying with even one other person can sometimes benefit the introverts too. Oftentimes when studying on our own, we may breeze through our notes without really understanding it all but mentally convincing ourselves that we do. Another person might fixate on a detail you never picked up and ask you to explain it to them, forcing you to delve deeper into the material and know it for sure. Before you know it, you’ll have gained more knowledge than you expected and may even be able to answer a few questions on the exam you may not have otherwise. If nothing else, you’ll likely make a new friend in the process.

4. Remind yourself why you’re doing this.

As the days go by, it’s really easy to get lost in the madness and just go through the motions of what’s demanded of you; you might not have space in the the day to relax, let alone think. Do not save the self-exploration until the last minute. Every once in awhile, take some time to ask yourself why you’re on the premed track, and more importantly if you want to do it. It’s better to find out sooner and start preparing yourself for alternative paths than to struggle through mindlessly and find that you never really liked it to begin with. It’s also crucial to self-reflect on what makes you you and begin to hone in on your true passions and interests, because if you are ultimately unable to articulate your special qualities, chances are that med schools will find it difficult to see them too.

5. Read

This isn’t pedantic advice coming from an English major; trust me, I’m nowhere near as well-read as I should be. But I truly believe that a doctor is more than just a vessel of scientific information, a memorizer of physiology textbooks. To be a successful physician, you must learn to work with people and empathize with their conditions. A scientist may be helping humanity from behind the scenes in a lab, but a doctor is at the forefront interacting with it, and that requires a developed and compassionate character. So read the news to stay current and informed about the world, but try a novel every once in a while to learn about individuals, their experiences, and what makes us human.

By Manasa Davuluri

Uloop Writer
I'm a senior at UC Davis majoring in English and minoring in Physiology. In a nutshell: I'm a '90s-obsessed Anglophile with a love for all things pop culture. I love to travel and explore new things and hope to one day incorporate that into my career.

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