How to Achieve School-Life Balance


Kimia is a first year osteopathic medical student. She obtained her bachelors of art in Integrative Biology from University of Berkeley, CA. She is passionate about women's health and working in underserved communities. She hopes to incorporate  osteopathic techniques in her future practice because she truly believes in the art of healing through hands. 

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I think that the concept of medical school can seem very daunting. The most common phrase that pre-meds often ask me is “do you study all the time?” The answer to that question is not a simple yes or no. Remember that the practice of medicine includes a lifetime of learning - one of the main reasons that I chose to become a physician - BUT that does not mean I am sitting buried in books 24/7 even if I have been, am, and will be constantly learning. Here’s my guide to Maintaining a School-life Balance while in Medical School.

1. Plan. Schedule. Implement

Before you start school, buy a planner. Seriously saved my life. Buy a planner, but also use a planner. Most schools including mine provide students with a calendar of events, courses, and exams. I use that along with my life planner, and desk planner to get through the days. Planning helps with efficiency (which is how you can learn 30 microbes, the drugs to treat them, neurological physical exam, and make time for the gym). You also will be less likely to fall behind because you are making yourself accountable and responsible for your tasks. I also like to use my planners to jot down meal ideas for the week, make time to FaceTime with my family, and even get a mani/pedi: yes you will have time to relax.

2. Take a break, or two, or three

Speaking of time to relax, I wanted to emphasize the importance of TAKING A BREAK. Let me break down my break schedule for you. I am not talking about spring break in Cabo. I am talking about every hour, taking a 10-minute break to walk around your neighborhood, watch a funny video, or just meditate. Also, if I am planning for an 8-hour study day, I will also take an hour break half-way in between for lunch, the gym, or just a quick nap. Treat your study schedule like your job. Focus when you are on the clock but enjoy the time you have away from the glycolysis diagrams. I also think it’s important to touch on longer breaks, such as summer break. I personally like to take a few days off completely from school and LEISURELY look through publications, school material that I have not had time to dwell deeper in during school, or shadow a physician in a field I am interested in. With that aside, I still like to travel, spend time with family, and go on runs with my dog. Remember: balance.

3. Use your Muscles, all of them

When I first started medical school, I was adamant about “eating healthy and exercising.” Yes, those are two very important aspects of a well-balanced life. But with exams, lack of sleep, and just life sometimes it’s just not feasible. SO I stopped FORCING a healthy lifestyle and focused more on building it into my schedule. I plan to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Some weeks I can only make it 2 days and some weeks 5 days. On days that I can’t go to the gym, I take walks during my study breaks, or do a quick 10 min interval program at home with my roommates. As far as my meals go: I plan, shop, and meal prep 1 day a week. It keeps me sane and my heart happy. Remember my planner? Well it comes in handy in this aspect as well.

This guide, my guide works well with my life, schedule, and personality. You can always adjust it to you needs and preferences or make additions with your hacks. I am always curious to know how other professionals maintain a school-life balance, so find me on Instagram: @kimiaandmedicine and share your thoughts!

Thank you Kimia for sharing your informative tips on maintaining a school-life balance! We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.