Posts tagged balance

Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get fed up with one, I spend the night with the other.
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904).
Scheduling Balance.
Readers often ask me and I often talk about finding balance while being in medical school. It helps improve your learning, your productivity, and your lifestyle while preventing burn out. This is however - as I know first hand - easier said than done. 
Today, I thought I might talk about one of the tools I use to scheduling balance: the calendar. We have all seen it; many of you might even use it on a day to day basis. It comes in many forms, from the large poster boards on your wall, to the agenda you carry in your bag, to the phone you carry in your pocket. 
The balance I strive for is easily overcome by the demands of medicine. There is no shortage of work, calls, and rounds to attend if I was so inclined. To prevent this bias, my schedule has to be balanced by the counter argument: the personal events and interests. If there are important events or activities I would like to do, I waste no time putting them in, no matter how trivial it is.
To have the calendars visible at all times side by side, reinforces the importance and interplay they have with each other. No calendar is more important than the other. 
Since I am in a relationship, I have found the digital calendar that syncs between my computer and phone to be the best fit for me. Not only can I add activities and events from either device at any time, I also have access to my partner’s calendar and she mine, making it easier to plan get togethers.
Scheduling balance works best when you are willing to put in the time to creating and maintaining your calendar as well as checking it regularly to make the most of your planning. Depending on how often you choose to do both, your mileage with the calendars may vary.
With a calendar well stocked and at your side at all times, you can easily check before you say “yes.” At the end of the day, life balance cannot be achieved no matter what tools you use if you cannot confidently say “no.”

Scheduling Balance.

Readers often ask me and I often talk about finding balance while being in medical school. It helps improve your learning, your productivity, and your lifestyle while preventing burn out. This is however - as I know first hand - easier said than done. 

Today, I thought I might talk about one of the tools I use to scheduling balance: the calendar. We have all seen it; many of you might even use it on a day to day basis. It comes in many forms, from the large poster boards on your wall, to the agenda you carry in your bag, to the phone you carry in your pocket. 

The balance I strive for is easily overcome by the demands of medicine. There is no shortage of work, calls, and rounds to attend if I was so inclined. To prevent this bias, my schedule has to be balanced by the counter argument: the personal events and interests. If there are important events or activities I would like to do, I waste no time putting them in, no matter how trivial it is.

To have the calendars visible at all times side by side, reinforces the importance and interplay they have with each other. No calendar is more important than the other. 

Since I am in a relationship, I have found the digital calendar that syncs between my computer and phone to be the best fit for me. Not only can I add activities and events from either device at any time, I also have access to my partner’s calendar and she mine, making it easier to plan get togethers.

Scheduling balance works best when you are willing to put in the time to creating and maintaining your calendar as well as checking it regularly to make the most of your planning. Depending on how often you choose to do both, your mileage with the calendars may vary.

With a calendar well stocked and at your side at all times, you can easily check before you say “yes.” At the end of the day, life balance cannot be achieved no matter what tools you use if you cannot confidently say “no.”

I'm in my first semester of nursing. I literally have classes all day, plus 12hr clinical shifts twice a week. The professors in all my classes give us quizzes in every class session. So my days pretty much consists of school, study, and sleep. I don't have time for anything. Would you recommend that I quit my job for this? I work part time at a restaurant during and only the weekends. That way, I have more time to study and get rest. — Asked by Anonymous

Having a healthy balance in my life is important to me. When I feel like I have overextended myself, I will try to take a step back and re-evaluate my priorities and how I can restore some balance to my life.

From the sounds of things, you are having some challenges with having some time for yourself which could make you more prone to burn out. I certainly cannot give any particular recommendations since I do not know your full situation such as financial pressures or other factors. Having said that, I think you need to look at what matters to you and decide if you need to reduce some of your burdens to give yourself some breathing room.

One topic at a time.
Here I am reading up on chest pain and the possible aetiologies. The doctors whom I work with are all lifestyle conscious. They were trained in a time when “medicine comes first, personal life comes second,” with often disastrous consequences to family, friends, and personal wellbeing. Now they aim to make sure my generation does not repeat that same mistake. Their suggestion to me for home studying is: one topic at a time. 

One topic at a time.

Here I am reading up on chest pain and the possible aetiologies. The doctors whom I work with are all lifestyle conscious. They were trained in a time when “medicine comes first, personal life comes second,” with often disastrous consequences to family, friends, and personal wellbeing. Now they aim to make sure my generation does not repeat that same mistake. Their suggestion to me for home studying is: one topic at a time. 

Ken Jeong, MD.
As a few friends and I discussed movies, the topic turned to the Hangover, parts one and two. As we laughed and talked about the more memorable scenes we remembered, one line stopped us in our tracks.
"Did you know that the actor who plays Leslie Chow is a doctor?” 
No, I did not know that. In fact, most of us did not. We all sat there looking at each other, flabbergasted. An actor? A doctor?! A real doctor played a doctor in Knocked Up?! I immediately whipped out my phone and checked.
Sure enough, there it was, right on his IMDb profile: a doctor of internal medicine.
I was surprised. Not just because this little bit of movie trivia had escaped me all of these years but that a doctor walked the red carpet. It seemed such a dichotomy of ideas. After all, were we not taught to shy away from shedding light about our life beyond our profession? Patients were not supposed to know us beyond the confines of the examining room. And yet, here was a doctor showing a different side of himself to the world, not burdened by the weight of a title or a white coat. 
Then again, it would not be the first time I have seen a doctor shed his skin. With all of the talk from college and faculty alike about finding life balance and pursuing our own interests, had I not seen a doctor who moonlighted as both a yoga instructor and a stand-up comedian? So perhaps, I should not be so surprised. After all, we all have a life beyond medicine, and we all need room to grow. Perhaps, Dr. Jeong is merely a more visible manifestation of our pursuit for balance. Perhaps it was time we all started thinking outside the box, and broaden our gaze to the whole horizon.
Dr. Ken Jeong, we salute you. Stay awesome.

Ken Jeong, MD.

As a few friends and I discussed movies, the topic turned to the Hangover, parts one and two. As we laughed and talked about the more memorable scenes we remembered, one line stopped us in our tracks.

"Did you know that the actor who plays Leslie Chow is a doctor?” 

No, I did not know that. In fact, most of us did not. We all sat there looking at each other, flabbergasted. An actor? A doctor?! A real doctor played a doctor in Knocked Up?! I immediately whipped out my phone and checked.

Sure enough, there it was, right on his IMDb profile: a doctor of internal medicine.

I was surprised. Not just because this little bit of movie trivia had escaped me all of these years but that a doctor walked the red carpet. It seemed such a dichotomy of ideas. After all, were we not taught to shy away from shedding light about our life beyond our profession? Patients were not supposed to know us beyond the confines of the examining room. And yet, here was a doctor showing a different side of himself to the world, not burdened by the weight of a title or a white coat. 

Then again, it would not be the first time I have seen a doctor shed his skin. With all of the talk from college and faculty alike about finding life balance and pursuing our own interests, had I not seen a doctor who moonlighted as both a yoga instructor and a stand-up comedian? So perhaps, I should not be so surprised. After all, we all have a life beyond medicine, and we all need room to grow. Perhaps, Dr. Jeong is merely a more visible manifestation of our pursuit for balance. Perhaps it was time we all started thinking outside the box, and broaden our gaze to the whole horizon.

Dr. Ken Jeong, we salute you. Stay awesome.

Whats it like having a relationship while being in med school? My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and a half and he is aiming to go to med school next year. How do you make it work? : ) — Asked by mourtneycarden

For us, what really helped was having a strong foundation to start with. By the time I started medical school, we had already been dating for three years. We had already developed strong connections and a good understanding of each other. We had already discussed long term and career planning, and what that meant for us. There were definitely no major surprises or revelations going into medical school what sort of challenges we would face.

So far in our long distance relationship, a lot of what makes it work is constant communication: we both send text messages throughout the day to keep each other posted; we talk on the phone or over the webcam at night; sometimes if I am fortunate enough to find the time, I will fly out to see her over a long weekend. 

It takes a lot of patience on both our parts and a lot of understanding. By no means is it an easy task, especially when you have grown accustomed to a physical presence over three years, to be transported into a screen-based relationship. 

I know of at least a few classmates whose relationships have fallen apart over medical school so this is definitely one of the hardest things to find balance with in my life. However, the glue that holds it all together is really our commitment to each other and a commitment to find time for each other and make it work. Without that I think we would be lost.

do you get the feeling that you might love your job more than your friends and family? Because I'm only in high school now, yet sometimes I feel as if I rather be studying or doing homework and learning then being with them. — Asked by Anonymous

School can be a little overwhelming at times and so sometimes I do find myself focusing more on studying than spending time with my family and friends. I would not say that I love the former more than the latter, but rather the commitments required of medicine can sometimes be overpowering and resulting in me being neglectful of others.

Finding that balance between the two, keeping them separate is something that I still strive for. While I may not have all the time in the world to commit to everything, setting time aside for myself and for those in my life is a crucial part of what I consider to be a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

When you were in your undergrad, how much would you study for school and what did you do to relax? — Asked by Anonymous

Hi there, you can find a response to similar questions here and here. Pretty much what I do to relax is outlined in the second link. I also spend some time on here obviously updating the blog. I also try to go exercise about five times a week to clear my head.

How involved are you in your University in terms of extracurricular activities, volunteering, etc. ? I know most of your time will be with studying and retaining lecture information but is there a lot of pressure to go beyond just the academic aspects? — Asked by Anonymous

I would say on any given day, I probably have about three or four hours to myself to do extracurricular stuff. I spend a lot of time studying so the balance is quite skewed towards studying. Sometimes I might get more, other times less. It kind of depends on my schedule and the situation.

How did you study for Physiology in your undergraduate years? I am looking at all of the information I must learn and understand, and I must say that it looks like quite an undertaking. Also, how did you manage all of your medical school prerequisites and other college courses in tandem with the shadowing and volunteering that medical schools would like to see in candidates? Did you ever feel like giving up because of the pressures that a pre-medical student must face? — Asked by worldofthenebulous

For your question about studying physiology, it really is quite a bit. I think it was one of the harder classes I had to take. What I ended up doing was making a lot of cue cards and flow charts. A lot of concepts in physiology work well to break down into smaller boxes of information and just work through independently. Things like fluid compartments and micturition, metabolism can be generally expressed into a flow chart. This not only simplifies things but helps you reorganize and digest the lectures.

I found those helpful but I admit that everyone studies a little differently so it might not work well for you but it is worth a try.

As for the second part of your question, I have sort of answered this in the previous response found here. As an applicant, I put medicine on hold not so much because of pressure but because I felt like I had under-performed in the MCAT and would have a low likelihood of success. This changed when my father passed away, mentioned here.