When making a decision as major as where to attend medical school, prospective students often overlook one influential factor: the weather. Although it is always subject to change, the affect weather can have on a student's focus and success can be significant. School performance, productivity in the workplace and the ability to cope with stress all can be influenced by Mother Nature and the tremendous difference it can make to one's mood.
Here are a few ways good weather can translate to good work:
The great outdoors
With average high temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and average lows over 50, Los Angeles's temperate climate is conducive to stimulating outdoor activities. Surfing, hiking, recreational sports, biking and paddle-boarding are all options year-round, when the weather permits. Regular exercise has numerous other benefits, as well, including improving one's self-esteem – which is important for medical students who are adapting to new positions as care providers and role models for their future patients.
Physical exercise also can reduce stress, improve mood and, according to the journal Neuroscience, even increase performance on tests involving memory. These positive benefits were observed for individuals who engaged in regular exercise for a four-week period. After this period, individuals demonstrated a notable increase in what is known as novel object recognition. In other words, more exercise can indeed improve one's ability to organize information.
The benefits of natural-light exposure have been referenced as early as the Crimean War and Florence Nightingale's "Notes on Nursing." Since then, the evidence has continued to mount: Exposure to natural light does more than just regulate the body's circadian rhythm. Sleep Medicine Reviews suggests it also can decrease depression, regulate mood, improve productivity in the workplace and sharpen one's alertness.
The latter is crucial for medical professionals engaged in situations that demand a sense of intuition or on-the-spot changes. For a medical student preparing to ace his or her exams, however, deliberate exposure to natural light can evoke a mental boost that leads to better performance on exams and clinical evaluation.
The same sunny days have drawn a number of industries, arts, restaurants and similar experiences to the Los Angeles area. Film studios, theme parks and outdoor activities (the beach, among them) are Southern California staples, due to consistently pleasant weather. Engaging in these novel, pleasurable activities enhances perspective, diversifies the mind and strengthens interpersonal relationships when shared with friends or significant others. In fact, behavioral activation — or increasing one's engagement in pleasurable activities, according to Rogers Memorial Hospital — has long been a cognitive approach to treating depression because of its ability to improve mood.
Even the act of trying to decide what do on a weekend can increase collaboration skills, augment the ability to compromise and problem-solve. These skills are essential in the physician-patient relationship, as well as in projects with other professionals on a patient-care team.
Great weather isn't a guarantee of success in medical school, or in any other arena, for that matter. Positive mood and fulfilling interpersonal relationships are admittedly complex and multifactorial. However, pleasant weather can provide benefits of which students can avail themselves so their transition to becoming a physician is easier.
By Kyleigh Roessner