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Beyond the Reqs: What Every Premed Should Do

This week, finals are going strong for many students, and with it, concerns about GPA, graduation timelines, and whether this was the right major for them. For pre-med students, science GPAs and completing their prerequisite classes for medical school are incredibly important to remember and prioritize. Over and over, we hear this refrain about how important GPA is for medical school applications, and it can be quite stressful. Additionally, pre-med students must balance other classes, MCAT preparations, volunteering/shadowing, and writing medical school applications – it can be a lot to manage. Time management and setting aside time for yourself are two very important skills that every pre-med student should have.

Time management is often easier said than done. To-do lists fall to the side when something unexpected occurs, and cooping yourself up in the library study room to grind out work can result in you on your phone. Nonetheless, time management strategies are not one size fits all. Rather, you need to find what works for yourself and commit to sticking with it. As pre-med students, our futures as medical professionals will be much more uncomfortable if we cannot manage our time effectively. There are many resources online that list out time management skills and strategies. Some of these might be familiar to you, like the Pomodoro method. Others may be less familiar, like the importance matrix and 168 hours. The importance matrix categorized the importance of every task into four quadrants, which is helpful to plan your week and stay on top of your projects. 168 hours is the total number of hours in a week, and you plan every task with the associated time required so you have a clearer understanding of how much you can accomplish in a week. Chores and relaxation time should also be accounted for in your 168 hours.

As college students, we all know there are times when classes ramp up their workload all at once, and it can be hard to take some time for yourself. It’s precisely then when it’s the most critical to give yourself a break. The physical and mental ramifications of stress, sleep deprivation, and burnout are extensive and not always temporary. Research confirms that muscle tension and atrophy, hypertension, stroke, heart attacks, and metabolic disorders can all result from stress. As pre-med students, health is something we should all prioritize, and alleviating stress by relaxing is one such way to be healthy. However, this is also easier said than done. If someone looked me in the eye and told me to just take a break when I have three papers, a presentation, two exams, and meetings to attend all in the next two days, I would’ve laughed in their face. Having said that, I’ve learned that giving yourself a few hours to just relax and do whatever makes you feel refreshed really does make a difference. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself! As finals stretch on for these next few weeks, take some time to throw on a face mask and listen to a podcast, make plans to hang out with some friends, or just take a long nap. Whatever you choose, I hope you have a great rest and an even better finals week. Good luck!

Thanks for reading,

Adeba M.

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