A quick guide to navigating the millions of medical talks, teachings, seminars and cocktail nights that plague your events feed.

 

Medical school is a fantastic time filled with captivating classes, lively lectures, scintillating seminars, worthy ward-work and absorbing assignments.

Did I say filled?

I definitely mean over-filled. Bubbling over the brim like that pot of pasta when you forgot how much it grows when it cooks (am I the only one who does that every time?).

 

It’s fair to say the average med student has a lot on their plate. Time-management is hard with the bare basics of a med course but throw in a few extra-curriculars, family commitments, a part-time job and maybe a hobby or two (just kidding. You can have 1 max) and it becomes nigh impossible.

Aaaaand lets not forget that the first week of every year we get some speaker who comes in to impress on us the importance of exercising 3-4 times a week, meditating, reading books outside of med, getting 9h sleep a nigh, catching up with friends, watching films, doing volunteer work, writing a journal and of course, practicing mindfulness (my thoughts on that ol’ can of worms here).

A phone's stacked calendar

The calendar can only get so full. Cant it?

With all this madness already going on life starts to feel a little insane. Then you discover your news feed is covered in invitations to med events. Seminars, skills workshops, drinks, meetings, trivia – they all look fun but the sheer number of them can be so overwhelming you just end up at home curled up on the couch watching Netflix instead. If you do manage to make time for a few of these kinds of events you’re doing amazingly. But, you can’t possibly make it to all of them and that is a fact, so decisions need to be made. Once you’ve sifted out the useless ones and have a few decent events to decide from and are debating whether or not to just go home and sleep, here are a few questions to help keep your priorities in order.

 

Should you go to the event?

 

  • Do you have committee-al obligations?
    • You joined some committee at the start of the year to bulk up your CV and now you need to show your face every once in a while. Sorry buddy, you gots to go.
    • Alternatively, you joined the committee because you genuinely care about the subject matter in which case you really want to go. Weird.

 

  • Do you have friend-al obligations?
    • Your friend is super keen about their new idea/group and that’s great and you want to support them but does that override the need for sleep? Do you remember sleep? It’s pretty amazing.

 

  • Is it free?
    • Are you made of money? If yes, skip this consideration.
    • No? Is there a decent reason for it not being free? (drink cards, there’ll be some badass equipment, top-notch food etc)
      • No? Don’t do it. It’s a trap. Think of all the potato cakes you could buy with that kind of money
    • Yes? Alright, it might be ok. Maybe you should go.

 

  • Will there be free food?
    • Yes? Of what calibre?
      • Domino’s pizza at MMC intern teaching?
        • C’mon man the interns are only a little ahead of you and don’t even have time to eat. Leave them their greasy pizza. Go to teaching if you think it’ll be relevant (if you’re not in 5th year that’s doubtful).
      • Zouki’s tabouleh and hummus at grand rounds?
        • Aw yeah could be alright if the rounds are by someone decent
      • Prawn linguine at the Epworth surgical seminar? (or equivalent fanciness)
        • YES ALWAYS GO.

Delicious food

Free fancy food is the best reason to go to any event ever

    • Can you get the food without going to the event? Do this.

 

  • Is it for a good cause?
    • If the cause will legit be helped by you going that could be good. Go you for doing a good thing.
      • If it won’t and it’ll just make you feel good about yourself, go home and sleep. Study something that could help a patient. Eat some food. You do you.

 

  • Will it help my career?
    • Either by learning things, finding out about career pathways or networking, a lot of these events will help your career in some way or another.
    • BUT beware going thinking it will hep your career and committing a social faux pas. Falling asleep during the seminar or making a bad impression on future employers because you obviously don’t want to be there is not a good idea.

 

  • Would I do something more productive with my time if I don’t go?
    • This is the hardest one for me. Sometimes this needs to end in making a deal with yourself – if I don’t go, I have to finish off my case report by tonight. That’s usually enough to give me a kick to go to whatever event it is after all.

 

At the end of the day you can’t do it all so don’t kid yourself. Getting some sleep instead of going to some talk isn’t necessarily lazy, it can be what’s best for you (or that’s what I tell myself). On the flipside, beware of missing events that don’t happen very often – out-of-town speakers, inspiring topics, or even a much-needed drinks with med buddies can be rare opportunities so if you are particularly passionate about something, ditch the other stuff for it. You can nap later.

 

Eva Matthews Staindl

Year 4 med student

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