3 Tips on “Med Schooling” From Home

Victoria Humphrey - Apr 16, 2020
Med student sits at her desk as she practices med schooling from home

From social distancing to mass furloughs, the coronavirus pandemic is altering life as we know it. While many healthcare workers have stepped up to the frontline, medical students have been forced to step aside in this time of need. 

With Match Days and graduations canceled, clinical rotations postponed or replaced with virtual cases, preclinical courses swiftly transitioning to electronic learning modules, and testing centers closed until further notice, medical education is fighting to find its footing during this ever-evolving global pandemic. 

Let’s be honest, making the transition to “med schooling” from home is really, really hard! While none of us could have ever imagined our medical school journey panning out quite like this, we are entirely capable of pivoting. 

Having worked in freelance marketing prior to medical school, I’m no stranger to a makeshift home office setup. Here are a few of my tips and tricks to make working from home work best for you!

Routine with appropriate flexibility is key (yes, that includes wearing pants!)

Humans are creatures of habit; it keeps us grounded and helps us to mentally and physically prepare for most tasks at hand. For me, maintaining a morning routine (see below) is key to simultaneously maintaining my mental health.

My morning routine:  

  • Wake up (usually between 7:30 am and 8:30 am)
  • Take a few deep breaths and set my mental intentions for the day
  • Make coffee complete with my favorite creamer and syrup
  • Catch up on emails as I drink my coffee
  • Workout (From YouTube to free apps, there are so many options for phenomenal at-home workouts right now!)
  • Take my daily vitamins, shower and, get dressed (I try really hard to stay away from leggings and sweatpants!)
  • Make the bed

After my morning routine, I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day, from online classes to research revisions. In these unprecedented times, it is important to remember that we are not working from home out of choice or convenience, but rather in an attempt to work and maintain shards of normalcy in light of the global pandemic. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s important to be flexible with yourself when it’s needed. 

Remain present, but accept distractions

Staying focused on your assignments, modules, or study plan is important for cultivating productivity. However, distractions are inevitable when there is no longer a concrete separation between school and home. From deliveries and that pile of laundry that has yet to be folded (yes, we all have one or maybe a few!), to social media, and any children, pets, or a partner you may have, accepting distraction as a welcome part of your day will help you to remain positive in light of the situation. 

The importance of the transition: Release tension. Set intention

According to Brendan Burchard, one of the world’s leading high-performance coaches, the mastery of doing better work is simple: Release tension. Set intention. 

When working from home, we walk the fine line of allowing our work and personal space and lives to become fluid.  Establishing division and transition is essential to allow yourself to maintain productivity during working hours and decompress when class, studying, or work is complete. 

Curious about how to apply this technique in your daily life? Below are a few examples of how to transition after a long day of class or studying:

  • Take a quick 5-10 minute walk
  • Hop in the car and drive around the block while blasting your favorite song
  • Meditate
  • Video chat or call a friend or family member
  • Exercise

Once you feel you’ve released the tensions of the day, think intentionally about what energy and goals you want to bring into the next portion of your day. After all, your energy is your most valuable currency; remember to use it wisely.

Most importantly, remember this is a global pandemic, not a productivity contest. Be kind to yourself. 

Hailing from the Sunshine State, Victoria Humphrey is a rising fourth-year student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who has a passion for educational equality, increasing diversity within the house of medicine, and working with medically underserved communities. Follow this retired pageant queen and foster cat “mommy” on Instagram.