Medical Student Life: Hobbies and Interests

Some of the first things that most people imagine when it comes to the medical student life are the study study study routine, a sedentary lifestyle, and a bookish demeanor and at first glance, it’s not a completely wrong conclusion. A big chunk of med school is basically studying all day. Does that sound unhealthy? It kind of is. That’s why it’s really important to hold on to your hobbies from back when you were a regular school student.

I’m a firm believer in having something to lean back on in order to relax. Studying all the time and being in constant stress is not fun at all and quickly leads to burn out. Interestingly enough, during my pediatric rotation, several consultants stated that it was not possible for medical students to experience burn out and it is here that I would like to respectfully say that med students experience burn out just as often, if not more, than physicians.

To combat burn out and study slumps, going back to your enjoyable hobbies is one of the best ways to bounce back. Whether it’s playing video games, cooking, going out for a walk or watching a movie, taking a step back from your stressful schedule every now and then is really important when it comes to maintaining yourself in the marathon of med school.



Don’t Sacrifice Your Hobbies For Studies

Something I noticed in a lot of school students who are aiming for med school is the way they let their studies consume all the fun sides of them. They’ll stop going out with friends, they’ll stop reading books for leisure, they’ll stop writing stories and blogs, they might even get out of a couple of house chores, all for studying a couple of extra hours.

I think that’s all really commendable. Not that many people can show that kind of motivation and dedication when it comes to their goals. If you can keep chugging away at your books without feeling burnt out or tired of what you’re doing, then that’s amazing! However, I just want to remind you that the real world is not a book.

You could be reading and knowing about everything that you need to know but until your experience it for yourself, it’ll never be the same. It’s like the difference between an experienced surgeon who has conducted many successful surgeries and a med student who has read up on everything related to the surgery and watched a million youtube surgery videos and probably knows more than the surgeon, but the moment you push the med student into the operating theater, it’s a whole other playing field.

However, not everyone is like that. We all reach our limits sometimes where we end up wondering whether we are really doing something we love and want to do. Sometimes we end up in a position where we know we’re doing something we love and we want to do it, but we just can’t find the same drive to keep on doing it.

For the former, I suggest getting into the practical side of things. Not sure if you want to be a surgeon? Get into the operating theater and see for yourself. For the latter, I suggest getting back into your hobbies. You need to have them to fall back on when you can’t keep going.



Why Medical Schools Applications Ask About Your Hobbies

Even residency applications ask for hobbies and extracurriculars. It’s important to have as many as possible (that you are actually interested in and actually have done) because hobbies teach you soft skills that you won’t be able to learn from books. Hobbies also make you an overall well-rounded person who isn’t just good for stating facts from the books.

Doctors need to be humans with dreams and interests outside of the medical field so that they are better able to relate with their patients and appreciate medicine, instead of being robotic people. Your hobbies don’t even have to be completely unrelated to medicine, in fact, quite a few hobbies can complement your studies (apart from the pressure and stress relief). For example, playing any kinds of sports helps build up your stamina for the long days running around on the wards or standing in the OR.

One of the best ways to have hobbies complement your studies is to establish goal oriented hobbies. For example, if you do play sports, you should try to join a team and play matches in competitions or small-time championships. Or if you write, you could try to publish your works by sending them into various magazines. This way, you have something substantial at the end of the day. Even if you don’t manage to perform as well as you would have liked in your studies, you’d still have these other amazing talents showcased and I kid you not, it’s a great way of impressing anyone.

Hobbies Teach You Soft Skills

What are soft skills?

These are basically professional skills that help in your interactions with other people and overall make you a good student, colleague, and teammate. These are skills that can’t really be taught and given a certificate for. These are skills that you learn with experience and application.

Some examples of soft skills include communication, teamwork, empathy, self-motivation, responsibility, and flexibility.

These are all skills that you can’t learn if you’re sitting at your desk all day and studying. It’s important to know these skills because, at the end of your medical degree, you want to come out as a doctor and a good doctor is one who relates to their patients, gets along with their colleagues, communicates well with everyone and has the patient leave with satisfaction.

You could be the most knowledgeable doctor in the world, but people will always prefer a doctor who has better interpersonal and communication skills.

What are My Hobbies?

So you might be wondering what my hobbies are. If you haven’t been following my blog for very long, it might not be that obvious, but I have a couple of hobbies.

I think the hobby that I am most of proud of is my blog. I’ve been working on this blog ever since I started medical school and I’m very proud of how far I’ve come with it and the kind of content that I’ve been writing on it. I think blogging is a fantastic hobby that everyone should pick up, even though I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Blogging is a wonderful amalgamation of writing, photography, digital marketing, and social media management and it really teaches you quite a few skills that aren’t taught in schools and in books. These skills are really useful as they can be used to actually start earning something later on!

Some other hobbies that I’ve picked up which are somewhat goal oriented include writing. In case you don’t follow me on twitter (which you totally should), Envy and I have decided to take up a 100 Day Writing Challenge. The point of the challenge isn’t really to write something fantastic, but to instill the habit of writing and start writing something every day. After all, it’s from habits and constant practice and writing exercises that we manage to produce something fantastic later on! If you want to join the writing challenge, you can as well!

My other completely non-goal oriented hobbies include art, mostly in the form of watercolors although crafting and journaling can also fall in. I also enjoy knitting, although it’s more of an on and off hobby of mine. Sometimes I knit for two or three months and then leave it for the rest of the year. I would say that reading books is also my hobby, but it’s something that I have unfortunately sacrificed during high school at the altar of studying and medicine. That’s something I don’t want you to do at all! However, instead of consuming written and print media, I’ve shifted towards watching crime dramas, whether American or Korean, as well as various Youtube channels, despite me feeling like it’s really a one-way consumption of media. I don’t really manage to produce anything out of it and it only serves to help pass the time or (more importantly) blow off some stress.

What are your hobbies? Do you have any that you dropped due to studies but want to pick up later on? What kind of hobbies do you think are best for a medical student? Thanks for reading! Have a nice day.

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Author: Kanra Khan

I'm a Pakistani American student of medicine, or more precisely, an almost-graduate of MBBS Class of 2019. I like to write about my experiences in med school and my adventures in life, which range from traveling, to art, to blogging and photography. Like what you're seeing so far? Consider exploring a bit more! The Lunar Descent is endless.

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