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bluejay99

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So I admit I'm a perfectionist and totally anal retentive. This worked well for me for most of life but now that I'm a first year I feel like I have no life outside of studying. I do take Friday nights off to go out to dinner and see a movie with my husband, but in general I study all my week nights and weekends which gets pretty depressing after a while. I also haven't taken a single entire day off since winter break.

I know second and third year don't get any easier, so I really need to study less and live life NOW. My classes are pass/fail anyway, so I have some cushion room. The problem is I'm so used to being a workaholic I don't know when to stop studying. Can anyone relate to this and offer advice?

(By the way, if you're on the opposite end of the work ethic spectrum and think my post is funny, no cocky comments please. If you can relate, and have some good advice to offer, please share.)
 
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MediumDef

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Sorry I can't relate. You seem to have an idea of what the problem is, which the friends of Bill would have you believe is the first step in recovery. Try and do something about it, take the whole day off on Sun and hopefully you'll find the world doesn't come crashing down around you.

As you've alluded too things are likely to get harder so hopefully forcing yourself to take a day off once a week will also teach you to be more efficient as an extra bonus.

It seems unhealthy if you literally cannot get yourself to take a whole day off for fear that things will unravel but I don't want to start telling you that you'll burn out and be miserable. Who knows? Maybe you are the sort of person that can keep this up it just seems unnecessary.
 

ZagDoc

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Schedule time into every day for things like exercise, R&R, hobbies, etc. Plan a couple (set a fixed minimum) of social events or days off a month. Hold those days as sacred and don't let anxieties about tests keep you from them. A lot of balance in medicine is planning, unfortunately. But the key is to plan in the things that keep you a well-rounded individual with the things that suck up all your time and focus.

A great piece of advice was handed down to me during my gen surg rotation by an attending. He said "Don't ever let the pipe dream of better hours down the road cause you to burn yourself out now. It's a lie. The hours never get better. But you get better at the hours. Focus on ways of maximizing your life now, so you aren't in for a rude awakening down the road."
 

hoqhuuep

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You're at a pass/fail school? If I were you, I'd settle for the pass and concentrate on the boards. That'd be my definition of perfect.

*edit* Didn't realize you were a first year. Sorry.
 

Jolie South

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Your perfectionism won't be such a problem now as it will be in clinical years when you feel utterly stupid for every little thing you do wrong.

Learn to give yourself a break and realize that EVERYONE makes dumb mistakes and that no amount of work will remedy that.
 
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shepardsun

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I was like this in my undergraduate career up until this last year when I said enough, I need to have a life because it's sure as heck not going to get any easier from here on out. I've started to exercise every day and have picked up three activities that I schedule about two hours a week for each and I really want to work on transferring this over to med school in the fall. Everyone that I've talked to has said that it's possible to both have a life and do well in school so I'm going to try my best to make sure that the slight progress I've made transfers over to med school.
 

penguin24

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Well if you found the time to get married, then you must not be a complete workaholic. At least you take Fri nights off; that's when I feel the most worn out & in need of a break.

One must also consider what specialty one wants to pursue. If you're shooting for Derm, then you're on the right track; If you're shooting for something not very competitive, then you're making things unnecessarily hard on yourself.
 

Jorski

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Alot (maybe all) medical students are type A personalities. If you are running off of a schedule and routine, then I would actually schedule (write in) time to relax and get away from the books.

Along the same lines as Jolie posted, no one is perfect. Its great that you can keep up this kind of effort, but you have to remember that sooner or later, some subject is going to get the best of you, or some resident or attending is going to make you feel like crap. So you will have to be aware and accept it rather then do the normal perfectionist thing and beat yourself up over a mistake.

Good luck :).
 

Bartelby

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How about taking every Saturday or Sunday off (unless there is an exam Monday), along with Friday night? Make it almost like a religious thing, but use the day to do whatever you love to do outside of medicine. Some very accomplished students take a day a week off no matter what because of religious reasons, you could make the same work for you.

Honestly I'm at the other end of the spectrum and I am taking the step soon, and right now I'm wishing I had been a little more anal about learning everything the first two years. If you enjoy studying that way don't feel pressured to overdo changing and taking more break time, unless you are getting depressed or you feel like your husband feels neglected.
 
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bluejay99

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Well if you found the time to get married, then you must not be a complete workaholic. At least you take Fri nights off; that's when I feel the most worn out & in need of a break.

One must also consider what specialty one wants to pursue. If you're shooting for Derm, then you're on the right track; If you're shooting for something not very competitive, then you're making things unnecessarily hard on yourself.
Lol, well I got married before med school started. Like I said, perfectionism wasn't nearly as much of a problem for me before med school because there wasn't as much stuff to learn so I still had some time for a life and my hobbies. Not so much the case now.

Oh, and I want to go into Psych which is more the reason why I shouldn't outdo myself.

Thanks for the advice.
 

thesauce

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I was in your shoes until 3rd year. I found that when the grading became subjective, it took a lot of the fight out of me. You may experience the same.
 
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Lol, well I got married before med school started. Like I said, perfectionism wasn't nearly as much of a problem for me before med school because there wasn't as much stuff to learn so I still had some time for a life and my hobbies. Not so much the case now.

Oh, and I want to go into Psych which is more the reason why I shouldn't outdo myself.

Thanks for the advice.
honestly you should put in the amount of effort that makes you happy with yourself and makes you feel that you've done your best. that being said, you should schedule regular breaks (which you've been doing on Fri, feel free to take more as necessary) to avoid burnout.
 
D

da8s0859q

So I admit I'm a perfectionist and totally anal retentive. ... The problem is I'm so used to being a workaholic I don't know when to stop studying. Can anyone relate to this and offer advice?
Yes.

I've found that you simply have to learn to let it go sometimes. Spending time obsessing over details is good only to a point; beyond there, all it will do is annoy you, frustrate you, and burn you out. If it's gotten to where you feel compelled to, say, post about it on SDN, that would suggest that you're at that point.

I'm definitely still anal -- medical students as a breed are anal -- but I guess it's just a matter of accepting things. This includes the fact that you may never feel adequately prepared for exams, that you should be studying more, ... .
 

AmoryBlaine

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honestly you should put in the amount of effort that makes you happy with yourself and makes you feel that you've done your best. that being said, you should schedule regular breaks (which you've been doing on Fri, feel free to take more as necessary) to avoid burnout.
Speaking as a resident, this is the best advice on this thread. There is a good chance that you would not be able to chill out enough if you scheduled breaks and stuff to even enjoy them.

If you're basically satisfied with the ways things are going, don't try to make major changes. They'll likely be more trouble than they are worth.

If you're miserable I'd suggest meeting with the Dean or an academic advisor. Discuss goals, areas of strength, areas of weakness etc.

Another thing which I think is really helpful as a junior med student is to find a clinical mentor. Take the afternoon off and spend it in psych clinic if that's your thing or hang out with the resident on call. Keeps the eyes on the prize.
 
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We have a bit different education system, but I know perfectly what you mean, I'm 2nd year student (out of six), and in my first year, I basically did nothing but studying ... my whole school year consisted of being at school in in the morning, studying till the night, and at night, chatting with my boyfriend and friends (since I live at the campus, far away from them). At weekends, I took one day off to see my bf, and otherwise I spent the whole time studying.
It was so stressful, and tiring, I remember I cried after I passed the anatomy exam.
Now I'm in the 4th semester, with the most difficult subjects like anatomy and histology passed, and I can't bring myself to study almost at all ... it's like I used all my resources during the first 3 semesters, and now I have no energy left for studying ... which is bad, since I really need to start studying for the upcoming exams already.
So, take it easy or you'll end up like me.
 

shreypete

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I have the EXACTLY same problem! It's really quite discouraging at times. When I study, I feel compelled to study each and every single detail..and I usually did well in subjects like Anatomy, Histology & Embryo, Biochem, Physio and Genetics but this year has been nothing but a nightmare for me, especially with Pathology, Pathophysiology and Pathobiochemistry.

I just can't seem to master the vast volume of information in these subjects. It's just too scary and it really discourages me from studying. This never happened in the past as I felt like I could master all the minor details in other subjects...so that made me study more and more and made me push my limits. Right now, I just feel like quitting med school and doing something else (but I won't because ultimately this is what I wanted and what I chose for myself.) I guess the best advice I received from a friend is to try and compartmentalize stuff and study the important bits. And apparently trying different methods of study (like finding videos pertaining to those subjects or taking "obligatory" breaks) really does help (although as of now, it hasn't helped me all time.)
 
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