This is our very last week of medical school. It's been 6 years, we've finished all our placements, we had our Graduation Ball last night and now we've just got one more week of balls, garden parties and chilling-with-friends before the Declaration Ceremony when we get sworn in as doctors (or something archaic like that) and officially leave the university.
I've been thinking a lot about keeping in touch with friends. Over the years I've come across many articles that talk about how hard it is to keep contact with friends after university when everyone moves to different parts of the country and starts their own 'real lives'. In fact, there's some evidence that "the biggest threat facing middle-aged men isn't smoking or obesity. It's loneliness" (see this excellent article for more).
The key to actually keeping in touch seems to be (surprise) to put effort into maintaining the relationships. When we're at school and university, most of our friendships are born out of convenience (same college, same classes, same corridor etc). This changes when we leave and start our adult lives of course.
I'm quite lucky in that lots of my friends will be working as junior doctors in the East Anglia region (where Cambridge is and where I'll be for the next 2 years). But even so, once we all start working we won't be seeing each other with any regularity unless we put the effort into making it happen.
There are two methods I'm going to use to do this (and I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've got any more). Firstly, I'm going to keep a list of people I never want to lose touch with. Haven't worked out how best to organise this yet - it'll probably end up being a Google Sheet, or a folder in my note-taking app Bear.
Within the list, I'll note down when the last time I spoke to the friend was. If I have a spare evening a few times a month, I'll go through the list and try and call or arrange to meet friends I haven't seen in a while. This might involve driving a couple hours cross country, but that'll be a small price to pay for a a lifelong human connection.
And secondly, I'm going to organise some sort of regular hangout (as suggested in the Boston Globe article linked below). It'll probably take the form of a once-a-week/fortnight standing invitation to a takeaway-and-board-games night that whoever's free can turn up to to hang out.
Why am I talking about this? Well firstly, putting it down on proverbial paper means I'm more likely to stick to it. And secondly, I know a lot of you who read this email are school/university students who'll be moving on shortly. As soon as you do, you'll notice that staying in touch with friends is much harder than it used to be. If you value those connections, I'd implore you to put the effort into maintaining them, even if it seems like 'life's too busy' in the moment.
Have a great week!
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