PreMed Student Work-School Balance Tip

Pre Med Student Tance asks some great questions about how to get better grades while holding down a job.

Hello Dr. Dussault,
As a matter a fact I have read your book twice already. It is truly insightful and I am truly glad I purchased it. The only dilemma I have and I hope you can help me with this – I am currently in college, in premed, and I work a full time schedule and the only shift I can work is the midnight shift. There are many nights I feel exhausted and sometimes can’t concentrate on my studies. I need the job to support me and my wife.

The only good part is my job gives me quite a bit of money to pay for school. But do you have any suggestions as far as how I can study better with this schedule?

Thank you so much.

This is a common issue students grapple with, combining work and study. In my study book, I explain in chapter 4 a 5-step system to get everything done effortlessly. So the first suggestion is go back to that chapter and re-read the suggestions. Once that’s done, I think your challenge has more to do with stamina and endurance than time management.

What happens when you work late and/or long shifts is that you get tired – usually mentally tired. You need to get physically tired and BUILD endurance and stamina – that comes with aerobic fitness. As you know I’ve achieved some pretty incredible results in school and my career. One of the reasons is that I am physically fit. I am currently ranked in the World’s Top 20 Masters Players in the 45-49 age category.

With that level of athletic activity, I have a lot of stamina and endurance to do a lot more than most people.

I know you’d like to hear something complex, but often it is the most elegant and simple solution that gets the best results.

Invest the time to get fitter – that means aerobic fitness – not strength or body building…

One last point:

Two teams are competing to saw a tree with a manual saw. Team #1 takes a 10-minute break every hour. Team #2 keeps sawing non-stop. Who cuts the tree down first?

Answer: Team #1 – they TAKE THE TIME to sharpen their saw.

I know how obvious this is after-the-fact…

4 Responses to “PreMed Student Work-School Balance Tip”

  • Dr D is right about training. To be able to perform your best in an academically-challenging environment like medicine, you need physical fitness as the foundation of such a pursuit. As a medical student, you might well be aware of the obvious results of training – more staying power as you sit and pounder through countless books. more over, training suppress stress hormones and inreases the natural happy drug “endorphine” release in your body. I am a gym junkie and I can testify that in the past couple of years, I took part-time masters of Health Science while working FullTime “an average of 50hrs a week” and sleeping less, I graduated with D/HD average. It would have been impossible to concentrate at work without training, let alone bad mood toward my ever-demanding patients and colleagues. I am self-motivated as far as training is concerned and if you are not, try to do small bits at a time. With your bussy schedule, start with a few minutes a day and low intensity. Keep building up and you will turn this into a good habit that may progress into a good “addiction”. Apply the same approach to training that you apply to being the best doctor you can be. All the best with your pursuits.


  • I love the story about the sharpened saw. It really sends the message loud and clear that rest and recuperation are INTEGRAL in success. I alos like your verbage of mental endurance. I think of stamina as being a physical thing, but I can definitely see where it would have a mental and academic place as well.

  • I love your advice about
    staying physically fit.

    It is so hard to do anything
    when you are sick or out of shape.

    Being healthy gives you energy
    and stamina- both of which I
    think are key to success.

    Another great post!

    I am loving this site.


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