Managing the Demands of Family Life and Medical School

For premed and medical students alike, time is at a premium.  Whether you’re getting ready to apply, are in the midst of the application process, or are a current med school student, you have a number of tasks competing for your attention each day.  For students that are married or have children, the demands on your time are even more significant.  That’s because, in addition to the requirements that other students must meet, you also need to spend time with your spouse and/or your kids.  Below are tips to help you juggle these responsibilities:

1) Treat your time as if it’s more valuable than gold. Quite simply, you don’t have time to waste.  Busy CEOs, politicians, and corporate executives schedule each hour of their day.  You need to do the same.  Scheduling your time enables you to make sure that you meet all your academic and extracurricular requirements—and that any free time is used efficiently.  The ultimate goal is to make you as efficient as possible… freeing you up to spend quality time with your family.

2) Prioritize. Fact: As a med school student and a parent or spouse, you will not have the time to do everything you’d like to do.  You’re going to have to make some sacrifices, whether that means less time with friends, less time pursuing your favorite hobbies, or less TV time.  Take a moment to prioritize, if you haven’t already done so.  Determining your priorities allows you to spend your precious free time efficiently.

3) Always make time for your family. When things get hectic, the temptation for most med students is to focus on their requirements and to neglect other areas.  It’s easy to justify this—after all, your family is always going to be there.  But that line of reasoning is flawed.  If you’re married, the amount of time and energy you put into your relationship (especially at the beginning) will have a direct impact on the strength of the relationship.  And if you have kids, remember that they grow up quickly.  When you’re planning out your time, treat family time as non-negotiable… even if it doesn’t feel that way at the time.  You’ll be glad that you did… and so will your family! 

Medical school is demanding enough on its own.  If you also have family commitments, you’re facing a major challenge.  That doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in medical school and still be there for your family, however—it just means you have to be organized, efficient and determined to succeed academically and at home.

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