No more long days of placement, no more evenings in the library, no more clinical skill sessions! How do we make sure we don’t get distracted and still continue our learning as a medical student?
Back in March – everything suddenly changed for everyone. While it took me a while to adapt, I found new ways to organise myself and stay productive during lockdown. I’ve described here a random day during a lockdown week which illustrates my routine quite well . I hope that you find it a helpful example, and I would love to hear how you are organising yourself!
7.45am Alarm goes off! Waking up at a regular time every day adds a sense of “order” to my days, which has really helped me since placements stopped. After a 5-minute struggle to leave “dreamland” (who can relate too?), I take a shower, get ready for the day and enjoy a good half an hour for breakfast, while listening to a French podcast (I’m squeezing any time to get to the next level in this language!)
Time to start!
8.45am In around fifteen minutes I set up my study space (including a good supply of tea!), since I like to have all my study material and resources at hand. I also construct a brief study plan and a “To do” list. This week I have to cover some of the main conditions in Rheumatology. So, for today, my main aim is to make notes on osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and osteoarthritis, giving an hour for each. Having this time limit means I focus on what is essential and then build from there (otherwise I am the kind of person that spends hours reading on rare complications!). Before going onto these conditions, I decide to start with a recap on history taking and examination in rheumatology (9-10am).
10am Osteoporosis. I first try to jot down anything I can remember, in terms of (for example) clinical presentation, aetiology and pathogenesis, investigations and management. Then I quickly read over the lecture slides, concentrating mainly on my “knowledge gaps”. I then structure a “disease profile” and take a 5-minute break before starting the next session. This is very important!
11am Osteoarthritis. I follow a similar method for every medical condition. When doing the “disease profile” I like to complement what I learn through my lectures with additional material – such as books, NICE guidance, and various recommended online resources.
12am Rheumatoid arthritis.
1pm Time for lunch! At my home country, this is the main meal of the day. Although I have changed my habits a bit, I still enjoy having at least an hour’s break in the middle of the day.
2pm Gout. Here I also tried to review some of the cases I encountered during my placement and recorded in my logbook, since they are directly related!
3pm I like to spend the rest of the afternoon on a different topic, to add variety and review what I studied in previous weeks. For today, I chose to go back to revising surgery, which I am always eager to do! I dedicate the next hour to going in depth on a typical presentation in the Acute Surgical Unit – the acute abdomen!
Time to relax!
5pm That’s the studying finished for the day! I first get the non-academic things off my to do list, and answer emails, texts, and get the laundry done!
Last week I was organising peer teaching for Year 1 and 2 revision in the evenings, which was really exciting! For today I had nothing scheduled, so I relax doing other things I like – generally this involves reading, dancing, writing, or painting. Today I was practicing a new choreography with a friend, then had dinner, video called my family and friends to call family and soon I will curl up with a blanket, a book and more tea!
Reflect the Day
As I have (very slowly) understood, having a productive day is not studying from dawn to dusk. It is more about choosing a reasonable amount of time and “protect” it from distractions (switch off the phone), having regular breaks to keep concentrated.
During the uncertainty we are currently facing, there are times I feel lost, and have days of low motivation. But I know that the dream I have needs effort to become more than a dream! Remembering my career goals (short- and long-term) helps me focus. Each day is a small brick towards building my knowledge and understanding of medicine, and it is a building project that lasts a lifetime!
Tell us about your day!
And you? How do you organise your day? What do you do in the evenings to relax? I look forward to reading your comments!