Being Productive During Off Time in 4th Year

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • 4th year of medical school is extremely paradoxical. It’s one of the most stressful relaxation periods of your life. The stressful part is interview season and the match, but it’s nice because you don’t really need to study anymore, and your rotations are more fun and based on your interests. At the same time, because you aren’t studying anymore, you have an extra 3-4 hours a day and 52 weekends of free time. That’s a lot of free time. So, what should you do with it all??? Lucky for you, I have some suggestions. DISCLAIMER; free time can be expensive 😉.

    1. Get a job. This is #1 because as a med student we have zero money. I would suggest something social where you can talk to people, with flexible hours and good pay. Uber driver, dog walker, babysitter and waiter to name a few. Although working doesn’t sound fun, having a little side money to spend is. How else are you gonna pay for your Chick-fil-A addiction? On a more serious note, you want to go into residency with a little bit in your savings in case you need to move, buy a new car, or pay your parents rent to sleep in your old room (jk but maybe).
    2. Spend time with your friends and family. This is really 1A. These are the people who have been with you from before you developed permanent bags under your eyes. There are so many different activities that we all do alone that are so much more fun with someone. Exhibit A: Netflix. The guilt of binging all 10 episodes of Love is Blind is much more bearable when you can share it with your buddy. Exhibit B: Eating. If you’re alone and there’s a family sized bag of chips next to you, you may eat all of them from boredom. If you’re with a friend y’all may make the responsible decision to cook something together (or yall each eat a family sized bag of chips). Exhibit C: Random activities you have always wanted to try. During this bout of free time, my friends and I have done every activity you could imagine out of boredom. We rock climbed, went to chuckie cheese, go kart raced, rented a boat and fished (apparently, I get terribly sea sick), gambled at casinos (fun but not for the faint of heart), and many more! The cost of these things is cheaper to do in groups and at the same time you are forced to step out of your comfort zone. But these will be the memories you look back on when it’s all said done and they are truly priceless.
    3. Find a new hobby. Or revisit an old one. At what other point in your life will you have unlimited free time with limited resources. This will teach you to get crafty. If you want to learn to paint, buy a brush, easel, paints and a canvass. If you want to learn to cook, get a recipe book, pots and pans (which I hope you already own). No more rushing to do things! Dedicate the love and time to each activity you do because well you can!

    The real truth of the matter, medical school really flies by, especially because you have no real breaks. When you do get that free time, make sure to use it wisely. Try things you may never get a chance to do once you get that MD. Most of all, take a step back to congratulate yourself on coming this far. What we have all done isn’t easy and we should all be allowed to enjoy ourselves before we get into residency. Good luck everyone with the rest of your lives!!