In the last blog post, Advice To My First-Year Self In Optometry School, I outlined the things I would do differently in optometry school knowing what I know now. Though it’s easy to look back at things I would do differently, I would also like to share the things that I think I did that may help you with your journey as well!
- Keeping a very detailed calendar: I found that paper works best. There's something about having your whole week in front of you and crossing off tasks as you complete them. Though it may seem repetitive, I kept both a paper and digital calendar with not only my class schedule but scheduled study and personal time. The paper calendar was always more detailed than the digital calendar with color coding and special notes. Do whatever works for you, but do consider writing everything down. With so many classes, classmates, and tasks to complete, it’s hard to remember every single detail on a weekly basis. This will take a lot of stress off of your shoulders and allow you to plan your time much more efficiently.
- Scheduling “me” time: Just because you are going to school doesn't mean you have to put all of your hobbies and the things you like to do aside. If you’re an avid reader, keep reading for leisure. If you play a sport, keep doing it. If you are crafty or artsy, make time for your creative side to shine. Remember, you are becoming a doctor, but there are still other parts of you that make you who you are. Missing out on things you usually enjoy doing will lead to negative thoughts and stress.
- Making health a priority: Remember to take care of your health. If you are not healthy, you will most definitely have a harder time in school, clinic, and beyond, and eventually, nothing else will matter. Though school is very important, nothing is more important than your general health and well-being. Remember to make time to exercise, eat healthy and take care of yourself, including your mental health. This will make all the difference when it comes to endurance and coping with high-stress situations.
- Finding an effective study group: Having an effective study group is critical. This means finding people who work well together and can study in a similar environment. However, don’t automatically assume that it’s best to study with the classmates you usually hang out with outside of class. Though there can sometimes be some overlap, finding a good study group can take your productivity to the next level. Find people who are willing to divide and conquer, or stop and take a break when one person is not ready to move on. Make sure everyone is on the same page and pulling the same weight. Though this should not replace solo studying altogether, it’s a great way to solidify your knowledge and make sure you have not overlooked any topics.
- Using strengths to help others: Are you feeling great about a specific topic? Offer to explain to your classmates! Sometimes hearing information summed up differently can be very helpful. Hearing yourself explain can also help strengthen your knowledge and understanding for the long term. Are you really good at taking notes? Offer to be the class note taker. These positions are paid at some schools. This can help you feel more accountable as well as help your fellow classmates if taking notes isn't one of their strengths! It’s a win-win situation!
I hope these tips will help you as you make your way through first year. It’s definitely a challenge and a transition, but you will eventually develop a routine that will make juggling class and studying much easier!
- Dr. Amadian