Student Post: Keeping Medical School Motivation

Approximately 60-80 hours per week.

That’s an average of how much time a medical student spends studying. I remember first hearing this at orientation and thinking there was no way that could be possible.

Now having one year of medical school under my belt, I learned how accurate that statement truly was. Between classes and clinical training sessions, the 60-80 hours a week flew by. I was trying to absorb all the new information and become the clinician I always wanted to be.

Moving from my first year into my second, I found myself hitting a wall when it came to school. Spending time reading about different drugs and diseases felt disconnected from the patient-physician experience. It was becoming harder and harder to get up early for a long day of studying.

With domain exams every 2-5 weeks and Step 1 on the horizon, I didn’t have time to waste. I needed to reignite the spark that first got me interested in medicine.

I found that getting involved with the community was one of my main motivators. Spending my time as a health educator gave me the opportunity to share the knowledge that I learned in school and also get to know the community better.

It was interesting to relate the health issues they face, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, to topics that we learned in class. It was more motivating to study knowing my knowledge could directly help others.

While connecting with the community re-energizes me, everyone finds their own way to cope with hitting a wall while studying.


Many students were enthusiastically involved with volunteering in undergrad, and they bring that same passion to medical school. Each break there are international service trips where students get clinical experience while exploring a new country.

Local involvement is also very popular. Below is a group photo of first and second year College of Human Medicine (CHM) students helping at an oral health fair in Flint. Other students work with kids in the community, such as through Big Brothers Big Sisters and Girls on the Run.

Professional Events

Learning more about your future profession is always a great motivator! There are opportunities to shadow local physicians or attend interest group meetings in order to discover more about a particular specialty.

Many students attend professional meetings to network and learn about other opportunities in the field. Below is a picture of students attending the American Medical Women’s Association Region 6 meeting.

It can be motivational to get a glimpse of what your future could be, and reminded of why you are working this hard.

Running Away from It All

Sometimes you need to run away…and some students are doing that in local marathons and half marathons!

Students frequently destress together through physical activity. Yoga, weight lifting, running, and bouldering are just a handful of the activities that students do together. Being able to clear your head can allow you to approach the material with a new outlook. It also helps to prevent burnout, and helps with retaining information.

Some CHM students recently completed the Detroit Half Marathon
In the end, every student finds their own way to reconnect and rekindle their internal motivation. Whether it’s being involved with the community or letting off some steam, it’s important to reconnect with yourself from time to time.

Even before medical school, you should find the activities that are important to you and make sure to prioritize them even when life gets crazy.

Anne Drolet is a second-year College of Human Medicine student from Clarkston, MI. Anne will be lending her voice as a student blogger to periodically offer tips on the admissions process as well as an inside look at the College of Human Medicine.


  1. Most of the time I don’t make comments on websites, but I'd like to say that this article really forced me to do so. Really nice post!

  2. Hi author! I started swimming one month ago. So, I need some good medical/health application for me. I think it would be great to know what's happening in your body! So I chose this one for me What do you think? Thanks a lot!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Third-Year Student Highlights First Half of Medical School Experience One Second At A Time

First-year student, Harminder Sandhu, Steps Up As Newest Student Blogger

Taking It All In, Part 1: Transitioning To A Special Medical School