By Hannah Soltani
Throughout training as a medical student, resident, fellow, or attending, we are all faced with
increasing responsibilities that make us feel as though there just aren’t enough hours in a day.
The demanding journey often leads us to neglect our passions and interests outside of the
medical field. In reality, our hobbies not only serve us as a means to manage stress but also
help us build better relationships and connect with patients and colleagues. After speaking with
others on this journey, here are a few tips that stuck with me:
1) Free time is your most valuable possession.
Therefore, you must be stubborn with it.
Just as you prioritize studying, rotations, and clinical practice, it is helpful to allocate
dedicated time toward your hobbies. Whether it is writing an extra page in your journal,
playing an instrument you love, or playing sports with some friends, you can indulge in
your favorite activities by being disciplined with your time and organized in your daily
schedule. This means asking yourself how you really want to spend the extra time and
being able to say “no” to things that you don’t find valuable or truly enjoy.
2) Join organizations, clubs, and societies related to your interests.
You’d be surprised to find out that your niche hobby of crocheting may actually be shared
amongst your peers. From professional organizations to student groups like my
institution’s comedy group, there is an abundance of opportunities to share your hobby
with others in a setting that is practical to your lifestyle. It helps that they are going
through the same experience as you.
3) Incorporate your hobbies into your study schedule.
Research has shown that adding purposeful breaks in your studying can actually boost productivity. Whether it’s a 5-minute or 60-minute break, use this time to draw a quick sketch or bake your favorite
dessert. It’ll refresh your mind, recharge your energy, and help you focus!
As a medical student, it is especially important to get into the habit of cultivating hobbies now,
as your life and schedule will only become busier. That way, when you are well into your career
as an attending, you will be reminded of what makes up your humanity beyond your profession.
On a bit of a more existential note, I am often reminded how precious our ability to connect with
one another is. When I can strike up a conversation with a stranger about the team his
sweatshirt is representing, or simultaneously admire the same work of art that a passerby is
taking in, I am reminded of how our shared interests make us human. Rather than getting lost in
the role of our identities, we can reconnect with one another, making us better students,
physicians, and above all, humans.
Hannah Soltani is a second-year medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.