Wellness Student Spotlight: Natalie Kleeman Klapholz, M22

"In medical school, it's easy to feel like we could always be studying just a little more, but it is important to be able to know when you can call it a day and enjoy your life as well."

How do you balance your academics and your personal life?

One thing that has worked well for me is drawing a line between study time and personal life. I try to treat school like a "job" so that I study during the day and when I stop for the night, I am truly done for the day. That way I can make dinner, read or watch TV, and fully relax for the night. Similarly, on the weekends, I study for the day and then stop in the evening so that I can have dinner with my husband or friends (virtually, of course). During the current pandemic, I will admit that maintaining this schedule has been a challenge, but it is important for me to preserve the divide between my student life and my personal life.

How challenging has it been to pursue your career in medicine as a newlywed?

It has been difficult to find time to spend together. My husband is an attorney and often works long and unpredictable hours. When I have free time, he is often not free and vice versa. One benefit of the arrangement, however, is that we both motivate each other to work hard. If he is heading in to the office on a Saturday, I might as well go to the library. Another benefit is that he has some understanding of my experience having gone through law school and now that I'm on dedicated I've found that my study regime has been very similar to his experience studying for the bar exam. We try to combat our disjointed schedules by coordinating our vacation time - last year we went away for Tufts' spring break. This year has unfortunately been quite different, but we try to plan something "fun" on the weekends, even though we're both stuck at home. "Fun" these days means setting aside a few hours every Sunday to go on a long walk, then make dinner or order in, and then watch that week's Saturday Night Live. Luckily, we've still been able to do that all while social distancing.

What do you do for fun?

For fun I love to cook, go on a long walk if the weather's nice, play tennis (I just picked it up this year!), and do yoga!

What is your favorite healthy snack?

Air-popped popcorn with nutritional yeast and iced coffee.

How do you de-stress?

If I'm at school I find it helpful to take a break and go for a walk. If I have more time, I like to go to a yoga class. I also like to watch a TV show I've already seen (for me it's The Office), because I know what happens so I can take a break and watch one 30 minute episode but not get sucked in by having to know what happens next. If I need to talk something through, I'll usually call my husband, parents, or sister to talk it out.

What advice would you give to your future self?

I would remind myself to keep studying hard, but don't beat myself up for taking a break to do something fun or relaxing. In 10 years I won't forget taking the weekend off to attend a close friend's wedding but I will have forgotten the few slightly more stressful days afterwards trying to catch up. In medical school, it's easy to feel like we could always be studying just a little more, but it is important to be able to know when you can call it a day and enjoy your life as well.

What surprised you about the MD program and living in Boston?

I have lived in Boston since I graduated from college in 2013, so I haven't had to do any real relocating. What surprised me most about the MD program is how fast it all seems to be going by. It feels like I started medical school just yesterday, but I'm already in dedicated and almost a third year. The saying is true, "Sometimes the hours feel long, but the months and years feel short."