Learn Something New Every Day

Ah, summer. We hardly knew you. As the relaxing months and summer Fridays that often come with them dwindle, the back to school advertisements seem to multiply. Though you may not be hitting the books, it’s beneficial to adhere to the old adage of “learning something new every day.” 

For starters, mastering new skills at work can lead to professional and even financial advancement. But I believe it’s important to pursue some sort of hobby or interest outside your niche to allow for personal growth, the chance to meet new people and help with time management. 

For example, as a training psychiatrist I allocate 40-70 hours weekly devoted to my craft. Pursuing intense exercise routines outside of work or reading up on Middle Eastern cooking recipes allows me to free my mind from the emotional vigor of my day job. Learning how to achieve specific goals in weight lifting or perfecting the best chicken biryani recipe is my favorite form of therapy. I know once those goals are mastered, I can learn how to improve my knowledge of the French language or can re-start piano lessons, which gives me excitement about a field totally outside of medicine. By exploring new areas, I gain a greater mental resilience to approach the demands of my profession more smoothly and with an open mind.

But as with many things in life, it’s about quality learning vs. quantity learning. A 2015 study published in the Postgraduate Medicine Journal examined self-reports of study habits of 256 students from Tulane University Medical School and how those habits correlated to scores on medical licensing exams. The study concluded that students who studied beyond 8-11 hours per day actually ended up getting less than the US median score of 227 on the exam. Additionally, those who spent time quality studying (no more than 8-11 hours a day and doing the recommended number of about 2000 practice questions) within a 40-day period and immediately took the exam scored relatively higher than those who studied more than 40 days and tested at a later date. 

Devoting a specific amount of daily time to the topic of interest and staying committed to that learning process will not only propagate mastery of a specific skill but also prevent fatigue and burnout if it is done in a timely fashion.

Want to learn something new? Long Island classes are in session and they’re teaching people everything from winemaking to ballroom dancing. Learn more.

dr. uruj kamal

dr. uruj kamal

Dr. Uruj Kamal is Chief Resident of Adult Outpatient Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center-University of Massachusetts Medical School. A Stony Brook native, she enjoys combining her knowledge of mental health with healthy living. Dr. Kamal has a special interest in outpatient adult psychiatry.