A question medical students are often asked is "how do you fit it all in?" And that is the strange thing, medical students in my experience seem to be one of the most active groups of people in the university. Medical students seem to be present in every sports team and society, as well as setting up a whole host of their own. For example, I was a member of the rowing team, a sport known for being very time consuming, yet over half of its members were medical students. This is a phenomenon I have observed time and time again in the clubs I have been a member of, but there's no big secret to it.
The reason I'm writing this article at the moment is that I was recently helping out at my former schools careers day. One of the topics that cropped up a lot was time management. Now I'm not claiming in the slightest that medical students are in some way superhuman and a cut above the rest of humanity. In fact quite the opposite, I believe almost anyone can do medicine which hopefully I'll touch on in a future article. But maybe I can begin to unpick a few of the reasons behind this apparent increase in participation.
The most obvious reason for increased participation is our lack of free time. That may sound strange, but let me explain. I think that if you have a lack of free time you will try to make the best of it. When you have so little free time then you need to make every free minute you have count. Although, contrary to this point, I think it's also something to do with the amount of free time we have. Of course we have nine to five lectures every day, but that still leaves us lunchtime, the whole evening and every weekend. That's not bad in my opinion.
I'm sure motivation has something to do with it too. You can't get into medical school without at least a moderate amount of motivation. So maybe medical students have a source of motivation which other people don't have, whether that be parents expectations, peer pressure or some inner form of get up and go. But that can't be the whole story.
Of course one reason could be observer bias. Maybe it is just that I join societies and sports clubs that other medical students join and I am missing out a wealth of societies that we do not participate in. Maybe if I had been a geographer, as I once wanted to be, I would notice the seemingly disproportionate number of fellow geography students in clubs and societies around the university.
So what is the point of this article? Well partly to make you think about how you manage your time, but for those of you applying to medicine I've got a bit of advice. Number one is don't worry about time management, if you want to do it you will be able to find the time. Number two, when you get asked in an interview "how do you manage your time effectively?", don't answer with point number one. I tried that and ended up getting rejected from all four choices in my first round of applications, despite two interviews. Try a different tack, I'm not sure what, but go and do some internet research on time management techniques so you can come up with a polished answer for your interview.
So, let me know what your experiences are, do you think doctors or medical students participate more than other groups of people?