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How to Multitask as a Premed Student

Individuals aspiring to go to medical school must complete necessary prerequisites and demonstrate distinct qualities in order to make their application stand out. This could include providing an MCAT score, fulfilling biology and chemistry coursework, volunteering at a hospital or healthcare organization, shadowing numerous physicians and specialties, obtaining recommendation letters, and gaining research experience through a STEM-based lab or program. In addition to these, they may also find that while fulfilling these prerequisites or qualities, they would like to spend time with friends and family, engage in extracurricular activities, start a new hobby, or even dedicate some downtime for brief moments of relaxation. Since all of these expectations or experiences could be overwhelming to take in, one may find these statements come to mind:

How will I be able to do all of this?

Will I be able to have my medical school application prepared at the year or time that I chose?

Is this all manageable for me?

It is completely understandable to feel discouraged about this entire process, and it may seem that there are way too many hurdles to overcome in such a brief period of time. However, this does not have to be the reality for you. There are many different types of strategies and techniques that you could implement that could make your entire pre-medical experience easier to manage, as well as reduce potential burnout or frustration. Keep in mind that many of these techniques are applicable to many fields and studies - not just medicine.

Redefine your definition of ‘multitasking’. Multitasking, in the context of completing more than one task simultaneously, can be a very draining and inefficient process for some people. An approach of bouncing between tasks rather than completing them at the same time may be a more suitable alternative instead. You may even want to focus more on using a ‘productivity’ mindset first if multitasking appears to be cognitively taxing. Configuring and changing your approach to multitasking to best fit your needs will set you on a track to high performance and satisfaction!

Do not depend on your memory. Although you may believe that you could remember dozens of dates and deadlines, it is very easy to forget or leave something behind. Missing exams, interviews, volunteer shifts, etc. could also have a negative impact on your application due to the consequences these actions typically hold. Alternatively, you may want to invest in a planner or utilize an app that focuses on organizing tasks and schedules. These not only give you a point of reference that you could check 24/7 but also provide the visual perspective to help guide you through your tasks and goals.

Schedule self-care, hobbies, sleep, and relaxation. For many people, schedules may only focus on academics and related experiences but may neglect many of the human needs necessary to continue functioning through tasks. In addition, some students may also believe that they should only practice self-care or get ample rest when they get all of their premed-based tasks completed first. This is not only a potentially harmful mindset but also something that could result in such students developing burnout or exhaustion. Keeping self-care, sleep, and other necessities equal to premed tasks by implementing them into your schedule, planner, or routine could help you maintain a healthy balance while also being able to dedicate your time to prerequisites and experiences.

Don’t be afraid to give yourself some extra time. Even though it could be very tempting to want to get everything done in a very short amount of time, it may not produce the results that you are truly looking for. For example, although taking seven courses in one semester may sound great initially, taking in such a heavy workload could have a negative impact on your grades for medical school applications. Spacing out your commitments, even if it may result in a longer duration of time, may actually benefit you in the long run!

Being able to achieve multiple goals is not an easy task, and you may need to alter the format of your multitasking to truly see positive results. However, once you realize the optimum pace and structure of your plan, you will no doubt start to reap the benefits that you’ve been looking for!

Thank you for reading!

- Ashlyn Southerland


UNC Kenan-Flager Business School. (2020, October 5). A benefit of multitasking. The Well.


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