One of the biggest challenges in medical school is taking time for yourself. We always feel like we’re behind. There’s always more to learn. And in your clinical years, missing a day feels like you’re letting your team and your patients down. It’s easy to put aside your own needs and wellness so you can demonstrate you’re a good student.
At our school, we have 1 day off every 2 months (besides weekends, depending on the rotation). One day for doctor appointments, car washes, oil changes, trips to the dentist, a chance to sleep in, buying groceries, getting a haircut, you name it. Things you take for granted prior to the clinical years. But your day off really isn’t a day off. In fact, I’m very productive, because it’s the only day I have off!
That being said, I encourage students to take days off for their own wellness. There’s a lot of guilt around doing this, particularly built within the institution of medicine. We’re encouraged by our programs to practice wellness, but we’re not often provided the opportunity to do so. A colleague of mine shared a story with me a few years back. He wanted to attend a family reunion but would not get the time excused from the clerkship. So he missed it, and a few months later, a family member passed away. He was devastated and focused on his rotation. He did not even honor the rotation!
Students need to take time for themselves even in medical school. And if that means taking a personal day for our own health, then we should be encouraged to do so. Because this work only gets harder, and if we are told to sacrifice our own wellness now, I can’t imagine what residency will be like.
What do you do for wellness, and how do you find time for it while in med school?