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Life Balance During School

By Ashley Mannka-Suydam
Kaplan Test Prep 

In the September episode of The Pulse, Kaplan's monthly online show for pre-medical students, I had the chance to sit down with a pair of students to discuss good study habits and the ever-elusive issue of time-management when preparing for medical school. The conversation was robust and both students had several great tips to share that should help both traditional and non-traditional students (if you missed the show, look for clips here); however, I couldn't help but notice that while we spoke at length about the importance of making time for personal fulfillment such as exercise, hobbies, and friends, neither student had much to say on the challenging question of starting a family while earning a medical degree.

I’m frequently surprised by the number of students for whom this issue represents a major concern as they consider their future in medicine. Right or wrong, the perception among many pre-medical students is that, busy as they are now, the schedule once in medical school will allow for little more than a monastic existence. It’s a valid concern of course, particularly considering recent research on sexual dysfunction and wellness among medical students detailed in the September issue of The New Physician.

Fortunately, many medical schools do offer guidance and assistance for students who are balancing a family life with professional aspirations. The AAMC’s Aspiring Docs initiative recently published an interview with medical school grad and recent newly-wed Amber Wang, in which she describes not just how she and her husband (also a physician) managed dating and marriage while in medical school, but also how their relationship influenced their experience with residency applications and the process of navigating the couples Match.

Needless to say, students who begin families and develop relationships while in medical school are faced with a somewhat different set of challenges than their single peers, but it’s always good to know that you don’t have to sacrifice the joys of family and friends to pursue your dreams.

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