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The social sacrifices of medical school

18 January 2024

By Naushad Khan, a third-year student at Spartan Health Sciences University, St Lucia.

The journey through medical school is a not only academically demanding but also requires the willingness to make a lot of sacrifices.

Among the various sacrifices that a medical student makes, the social sacrifices are one of the most important! Medical students often find themselves in challenging situations where maintaining family ties, friendships and other relationships can be a tough task. In this article we will be looking at various dimensions of the social sacrifices that medical students make as they navigate their way through medical school and how to deal with them.

The biggest contributor to making things worse for medical students is the limited amount of time. Their demanding curriculum and study schedule hardly leaves any time for leisurely social interactions. Moreover, the few minutes they can spare every day are instead used for academic interactions to further aid their academics, rather than being able to participate in social interactions. When their siblings and friends may be out enjoying a picnic or family gathering, medical students are busy studying or gaining hands-on clinical experience.

The challenge is to be able to balance the academic commitments and the social relations.

Maintaining meaningful friendships throughout medical school is biggest challenge most medical students face. Fellow medical students forge bonds because of shared challenges and thus have an unspoken understanding of what challenges everyone faces. However, this is not shared with most of the already existing relations we have, where others might find it hard to empathise with the struggles a medical student goes through. This leads various close relations to be put to test by the demanding medical school life.

Medical school does not stop at impacting our friendships but the effects are felt equally worse in case of family ties and romantic relationships. Medical students end up missing a lot of important events from weddings, holidays, events to even birth of their own kids because of strict academic commitments. The strain on family relationships can be felt, and medical students often feel bad with the guilt associated with not being fully present for their loved ones. Long-distance relationships, a common consequence of medical education, further make things worse.

Sacrifices are inevitable in a meaningful life, no matter what you pursue. Medical students use a variety of ways to cope. Study Groups can help with social interaction while studying for shared goals. It is also important to prioritise on quality over quantity, make sure to make the right and most impactful use of whatever little time you get with your loved ones by being totally present in the situation.

Medical students need to realise that support systems are very important while on this really demanding journey. Family being understanding and aware of the challenges that a medical student faces can be of great help in times of need. Friends in Medical community are the ones who can most closely relate to you and really understand what and how it feels to be in your place, so make sure you have a good number of those. These support systems play a very crucial role in helping medical students endure the perils of their journey.

In conclusion, the social sacrifices of medical school are very real, but the journey being so challenging is what really makes it worth working for and it for sure has its moments of joy and fun. By being mindful and resilient to maintain friendships and family ties medical students can strike a harmonious balance between their social life and their academic pursuits. As these future healthcare professionals move through the challenges of medical school, they emerge not only with a wealth of medical knowledge but also with a deep appreciation for the importance of human connections in the face of sacrifice.