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Another semester of medical school in the books! It’s hard to believe that my class will be on the wards in just over two months! I really felt like I hit a studying groove in M2 year more so than last year, but it will be great to switch over to taking care of patients rather than minding the many tabs of lectures, notes, and pdfs on my computer.

The two weeks we have off now are a wonderful chance for reflection, and I’m here now at Songbird (one of my favorite cafés in Ann Arbor—you have to try the triple grilled cheese) thinking about challenges and accomplishments of the last semester. It’s amazing to have time to just sit and think, truly a luxury that can be hard to squeeze in during busy weeks. Many experiences have been meaningful in the past few months; I’ll focus on a few to share.

Surgery Olympics Team Waljee: Tim, Hannah, Tony, Shaina, Nonie

Surgery Olympics Team Waljee: Tim, Hannah, Tony, Shaina, Nonie

This past month my team competed in the “Surgery Olympics,” a program established by our surgery student interest group (SCRUBS) leaders. You might wonder what exactly a Surgery Olympics entails. I did too. We worked on surgical skills over the summer, and then competed in teams to see who could perform them most quickly and accurately in a competition. Personally, I found the laparoscopic skills (like the bean drop!) to be far easier than the knot tying and suturing: I have some work to do before my surgery rotation.

In addition to the skills contest, each team presented on a research project they had worked on with their mentor at Surgery Grand Rounds. I had the honor of presenting our team’s work. It was exciting to share our results regarding post-operative opioid prescribing, and especially to hear what all the other teams had worked on, too. Overall, it was awesome to be part of a supportive and collaborative team with the best mentor, Dr. Jennifer Waljee. We took home silver!

The second meaningful experience has been more of a shift in attitude rather than a singular event: medical school has changed my mindset on the division between work and play. Before medical school, I had more of the mindset that if there was a big deadline or exam coming up that I should really focus on that and then find time for relaxation or other projects only after it was completed. But I’ve changed. I’m so glad to now be able to turn the “work” part of my brain off even when there’s more to be done because in medical school (and life in general) there is always more to be doing.

Someone told me at the beginning of M1 that every minute you’re not studying is another minute you’re falling behind, but that’s no way to live! So instead, I’ve rejoiced in the moments I’ve spent at yoga class, or at a coffeeshop with a friend, or salsa dancing, even with an exam coming up! Luckily, Ann Arbor has many places to unwind and relax no matter your style. Flex-time quizzing and our pass-fail grading system have definitely contributed to this change, but I’m hopeful that the mindset shift will stick beyond this phase of training.

Finding time for relaxation at our Doctoring potluck. So grateful for this team (including everyone not pictured)!

Finding time for relaxation at our Doctoring potluck. So grateful for this team (including everyone not pictured)!

There’s so much to look forward to in 2017. Most of all, I can’t wait to be on the wards!

Shubhangi (Nonie) Arora is a third-year medical student at University of Michigan Medical School. She is deeply invested in health policy initiatives and quality improvement research. She can be followed on Twitter @nonie_arora.