Coping with Independence at Medical School

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For many people arriving at medical school, it may be the first time they have lived away from home for any prolonged period of time and the first time they have had to really look after themselves. Without parents, school teachers, friends and family to look out for them, medical school can be a fairly daunting place to young students. Medical schools are large institutions packed full of people, and it is fairly common for symptoms of home-sickness and anxiety to develop in the first few weeks. Normally, these symptoms subside, as students make new friends and settle into the routine. However, many aspects of living independently can cause other problems for new medical students, that if not dealt with, can affect study.

Learning to live independently can be difficult, especially for students living away from home for the first time, but failing to look after yourself can result in problems that inhibit study and can also lead to more serious problems. Often, medical school is the first time a student has to cook for themselves, wash their clothes and budget for things like rent, food, books and other essentials. Poor diet, money problems and coping with household chores often leads to stress, which can impact on a medical student’s study, so learning to cope with independent living is essential.

Medical students often lead busy lives and one of the first things that gets affected by lack of time is their diet. A good diet is important for providing energy throughout the day and maintaining concentration levels. Relying too much on takeaways, frozen meals and chocolate bars, soon has an effect, causing  poor health, lower concentration and a lack of energy. Learning to cook a few simple, wholesome dishes, using fresh ingredients can make all the difference, as can snacking on fruit rather than confectionery.

Lack of exercise is also another common problem faced by medical students. Often, after a hard day studying, spending the evening relaxing in front of the TV is all many people can manage. However, keeping yourself fit and healthy can help boost concentration and make studying easier. Most medical schools have excellent facilities such as gyms and sports centres, which medical students should take advantage of, making sure they get at least a couple of hours of exercise each week. Another common problem for medical students is over-indulgence in alcohol. While socialising is important to help students relax, too much drinking can affect study and lead to more serious health problems. Students should keep track of the amount they drink and avoid consuming too much alcohol.

Another important aspect of independent living is keeping abreast of all the self-administrative tasks, such as laundry, cleaning the home and paying the bills. Personal hygiene is essential for medical students who may find themselves working with members of the public, so having a routine for cleaning clothes and making sure you look presentable should be part of your daily and weekly routines. It is also important to manage your money sensibly, as not being able to afford the rent or pay the bills could impact your studies if you have to find somewhere else to live.

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