How Much Free Time Do You Have In Med School

Plenty of free time isn’t something medical students are known to have, but is it really that bad? No, it’s not. When I was still in high school, I remember everyone telling me how I wouldn’t be able to spend time with my friends and family or pursue hobbies I enjoyed if I decided to study medicine.

This turned out to be absolute bullshit; however, I do have less free time than I did in high school. Let me give you some raw facts about free time in medical school that I learned over the years:

Free Time Comes In Waves

What I mean by that is that there will be days where you’ll be stuck in classes for the whole day and barely get the chance to eat something decent. In my case, this happens once or twice a week.

There will also be days when you’ll only have one 3-hour lecture and be free for the rest of the day. For me, this also happens once or twice a week. On other days, I had 6–8-hour classes, which at the end of the day still left me with enough time for my hobbies, friends, and studying.

You have to learn How to organize your time

Well, no one’s heard this one before, am I right? I don’t mean plan every minute of every day; just make sure that things don’t pile up or that you don’t miss any due dates. If you have a paper to write, pick a date and do it then. And preferably not the night before it’s due. Plan a study schedule for finals and start studying on time so you don’t need to panic when they come.

I usually start preparing for finals anywhere between 2 months and 10 days before the exam, depending on the subject. And by prepping, I don’t mean studying 24/7; I plan on studying approximately 2 hours per day and start intensely revising 2-3 days before the final. During these 2-3 days, I put my hobbies and other free time activities aside and really focused on revising for up to 8 hours per day.

Put yourself first

I’m not saying don’t study and don’t put effort and hard work into med school; I’m saying allow yourself to breathe. You’re here because you deserve to be. You are not a machine.

You don’t need to spend all your free time studying; just make sure that your study sessions are consistent and of high quality. Make sure to revise what you already know and put time and effort into understanding concepts rather than learning them by heart.

At times when you’ll feel most overwhelmed, and they will come, trust me, give yourself space and time to disconnect from all the stress and do something you enjoy and find relaxing. The world won’t come crashing down if you allow yourself to breathe and relax for an hour or two.

Please remember that your inner peace and happiness should always come first. Being burnt out, exhausted, and borderline depressed by graduation won’t make you a better doctor; however, being satisfied, grateful, calm, and happy might.

Don’t study medicine if you’re not willing to put in the work

Studying medicine is not easy. It’s often challenging and overwhelming, but it’s also beautiful when you find the perfect balance. Will you be expected to put in a lot of effort and hard work? Yes. Will it be hard? Sometimes. Will it consume most of your time? Not necessarily.

If you’re thinking about going into medicine, you know that there’s a lot to learn and that you have to find a way to retain all this knowledge, as you’ll be expected to use it one day, and your ability to use it can mean the difference between life and death. 

No pressure, right? Still, as I said above, you don’t need to spend all your free time studying as long as you stay consistent. You’re allowed to have lazy days, just not too often. You’ll also have busy and stressful days, but they shouldn’t come too often either. See, balance.

Final Words

What I want you to take from this is that medicine doesn’t need to and shouldn’t occupy your whole life. It is a big part of it, but please keep in mind to take care of yourself, your mental health, and your happiness, as I believe this can help you be a better doctor. 

If you learn how to organize your time, stick to the due dates, and put in the hard work when needed, you can gain lots of knowledge, do great in medical school, and still have enough free time to take care of yourself, spend time with friends and family, and do the things you enjoy.