|Medical school requires balancing act, friends
Chelsey Baldwin of Little River is a first-year medical student. This
column follows the journey of her class in becoming doctors.
The past two weeks have been a time of major transition. I have found
out what is like to spend more than half of my waking hours in a
library and turn around and do it again the next day. Not to mention
four hours of lecture each day leave me squirming in my seat like a
This is not
to suggest that I haven’t learned some interesting things in lecture,
namely sources of inflammation, causes of diabetes type II, and quite a
few dirty jokes. However, for the most part it’s basic science that
rules my life. From attending lectures, to completing the recommended
six hours of studying at night, I never have problems falling asleep.
Peeling myself out of bed each morning has been a different story. But
despite our mass semi-unconscious state at 8:15 every morning, our
lecturers’ enthusiasm never seems to fail. Their determination to make
this mountain of basic science intriguing and exciting is admirable and
much appreciated. By the end of the second week, I feel less awkward,
less like a visitor and more like I belong here.
I have finally mastered the second floor shortcut: from our Calhoun
Street auditorium all the way to the Basic Science Building.
I learned that coffee makes me happy, even in early morning lectures.
Most importantly, I am beyond thankful for the friends I’ve made, some
of whom I already am extremely comfortable being around.
The ease of our bonds arises from the fact that we seem to be on the
same wavelength. We truly have a lot in common, namely hours of
studying, and our differences make for fun conversation and
perspective. Plus, it’s not hard to realize that it is all more
enjoyable with friends.
In the pursuit of quality blood pressure measurements, friends will
repeatedly let you cut off circulation to their arm. They let you probe
them for pulses and bone elements, keep you company in the library, and
monitor your ever growing addiction to caffeine. My peers have truly
been an essential component of my transition into medical school, and I
feel lucky and honored to be a part of this class.
The buzz word within the first year class has been balance. We’ve been
advised by our deans, instructors, and second-year mentors alike that
we must find balance to achieve a healthy and satisfying equilibrium
between our personal and professional obligations. The idealistic
concept of balance is not difficult to perceive—exercise, paint, read,
spend time with loved ones or whatever it is that makes you happy.
However, it comes down to just that: an either-or situation.
I literally cannot find the time to do some of the things that make me
happy. For example, I used to consider myself a runner. Since school
has begun, this has been one of the first things that I cross off my
to-do-list when I become bogged down or am made to choose between
exercise and spending time with my friends and family. This has been
the saddest loss I have experienced since matriculation into medical
school. However, as I become more accustomed to my new routine, I will
work harder to regain this time for myself. I know it is important to
achieve this balance, but in order to do so, I have to become stingy
with my time.
It comes down to having to ask myself for every activity: “Is this the
best use of my time?” because time seems to be the only thing that
isn’t piling up on my plate.
Friday, Sept. 10, 2010