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Peer Advice: The Importance of "You" Time in Grad School


Starting off, congratulations on joining the MBKU family!!

I’m so happy you’re here and you should feel proud of what you have accomplished thus far. I know you’re probably anticipating the program that you’re about to undertake, but try and take a moment to appreciate your journey to get here.

During your time in graduate school, it is no surprise that you will spending quite a bit of time studying. The process to becoming a medical professional is, and should be, difficult. If it was easy, everyone would do it! However, the time you will spend studying isn’t the only important part of an average day. In order to be able to study for extended hours and avoid burnout, dedicating time to yourself everyday is essential.

But what is burnout? It’s a feeling of exhaustion brought on by prolonged stress of any kind, be it physical, mental, or emotional. This exhaustion makes studying or performing any of the tasks that are required of you during graduate school, seemingly impossible. Avoiding getting to that point of exhaustion is very important, but how does one manage to avoid burnout?

During my first year in optometry school, I would set aside an hour minimum every day, and just that amount of time to myself would make studying that much easier! Your time spent away from schoolwork is just as important as your time spent practicing your clinical skills or reviewing your lecture notes. So don’t feel bad about going to workout, going out to eat with friends, watching an episode of your favorite show, playing video games, going for a hike (there’s some really beautiful scenery in the area), or simply taking a nap (my personal favorite). Whatever you need to do in order to be reenergized for your studies is important, and should be prioritized in a daily schedule. Graduate school is a marathon, not a sprint.

Additionally, taking entire days to yourself has worked out for many students, myself included. Saturdays during my first year were often my “off day”, where I would purposely not practice my clinical skills, or study the material presented in lecture, even if I felt a twinge of anxiety to do so. This “off day” really helped me to recharge for the course load that I underwent Sunday through Friday. One of my favorite sayings that I’ve heard was “choose your off days, or your body will choose them for you”, meaning that if you don’t set aside “you” time, you may start to experience burnout during a time when you really need to be productive. Unfortunately, I experienced this burnout during my first quarter because I did not make adequate time to pursue my hobbies, so it is my hope that you reading this will not make the same mistake I did!

Graduate school isn’t easy, but I promise it is worth it. The number of lives you will have a positive impact on through your care will make all of those hours studying and practicing worth it. Taking time to yourself and pursue your hobbies is very important, if not essential. So, take that nap, or take that entire Saturday off, you deserve it!

Photo of SCCO students