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How to live like the experts: Medical student Candice Richardson on easing back into September routines

Candice Richardson
Written by Monica Matys

Ever wonder if your doctor or specialist follows their own advice? Sunnybrook experts get candid with the approaches they take in their personal lives.

Candice Richardson is a third-year medical student at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. She is completing clinical clerkship at Sunnybrook.

Did you get a break over the summer?

At U of T, our curriculum is four years so we get the summer after our first and second years off. Most of us fill the summer with research and all sorts of other things.

Do back-to-school commercials stress you out?

Now that I’m in my late twenties and still in school, I actually think of my calendar year starting in September and not in January. I find September exciting and intimidating all at the same time because there is always change. I was the kid growing up who loved school. I loved getting my backpack ready, and my pencil case and all my pens. I still try to keep that spirit alive.

How so?

I still try to buy myself a new pen set every year. There is a lovely brand of gel pens that I love.

Do you change your schedule at all in September?

I do try to start going to bed slightly earlier and getting up around the same time, so not being so erratic with my sleep schedule.

I also try to plan things more broadly, so I’ll download all the syllabuses for my various courses and map out when my exams are going to be. I have a color system in my calendar. It’s helpful to have a zoomed-out view of my schedule before getting caught up in the minutia of day-to-day, which always happens the moment you start! It’s important to leave time for family, friends and all the important milestones that come along with that, too.

What are your worst habits as a student?

For me, it’s not being able to say no. I’ve gotten better at it over time. We are often told to leave doors open, and I agree that can sometimes lead to opportunities, but the fear of missing out can be ineffective in other ways. A good friend once told me I’m at the point in my life where it’s either got to be a “hell yes” or a “no”, so that’s the approach I try to take.

I also used to be a procrastinator. Now I’ve channeled that into avoiding one task by doing other tasks.  Even if I’m not doing the “thing”, I’m still being productive.

What’s your go-to study food?

I love cereal! There are many different varieties and it’s an anytime food for sure!

Any great student survival tips you can share?

Remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. As another friend told me, you can’t bring light to other people’s lives by setting yourself on fire. We live in a huge hustle culture, but you have to leave time to fill up your own cup.

Also, being gentle with yourself. Even if things don’t work out right now, it doesn’t mean they won’t work out in a better way in the future.

About the author

Monica Matys

Monica Matys is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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