As a first year medical student, I made a promise to try to do yoga at least once a week. Not only did I fail to keep that promise, I think I only did yoga three times that entire year! As I progressed through medical school, I could not help thinking about this ever present question; don’t I deserve to treat my body with the same respect as I would recommend to my patients? Seems like a simple concept, yet surprisingly medical schools around the country do not seem to regard this as important. It’s not necessarily that medical schools lacks the resources or that medical students are unwilling to participate in self-care. Self-care just always seems to end up at the bottom of the to-do list.
Despite having always lived a life of healthy eating, exercise and personal reflection, I found that medical school brought with it barriers to my own self-growth. That is, until I attended LEAPS into IM, a week long integrative medicine program, designed to educate medical students in integrative medicine and inspire them to become leaders in their respective medical schools. Of the many important lessons that I took away from that week, the one that resounded most clearly for me was the responsibility of self-care. It rang so clear to me during that week, and continues to do so. How can I ever be an instrument of health if I cannot find the motivation to care for myself?
After realizing this important lesson, I felt motivated to share it with other students who perhaps were asking themselves the same question. Sure, there are tons of students who manage to keep up with an exercise regimen, healthy diet or a strong spiritual practice. But I would venture to say that every medical student has had to give up something that they previously valued as a strong component of their self care, be it meditation, friendship or perhaps yoga!
Dr. Stephanie Marango was kind enough to travel all the way to Mesa, AZ to bring the wonderful living anatome class to A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine’s first year class. Despite the burden of an upcoming quiz, several students attended the two-sessions held in the campus YMCA. The feelings of rejuvenation after the class were evident as the students gathered over fresh veggie snacks and engaged in eager discussion about finding health and well-being in their hectic lives.
After it was over, I felt content. We had given those students a glimmer of hope that it was possible to practice self–care even when faced with the demands of a busy life. Whether their feelings of rejuvenation came from the yoga, the veggies and hummus or the time away from the library is unclear. But at the end of the day, they felt refreshed having given just an hour of their time to themselves, and that is what matters.
About the author
Bethany Berman-Brady is a third year medical student at A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona. As an Osteopathic student, Bethany strives to embrace the principles of integrative medicine through her beliefs in patient centered health care as well as the importance of self care. Bethany currently lives in Portland, OR where she moved after her first year to complete her medical training at one of ATSU’s regional campuses. Raised in Maui, Hawaii, she is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys spending whatever free time she gets exploring nature, exercising or spending time with family and friends.