Acceptance into Medical School is an exciting and rewarding experience. Your efforts of endless studying while missing out on activities with friends has greatly paid off. Your life plan is proceeding along as scheduled. You’ve made it into Medical School! This is what it’s all about right?
The pressure of Med School a Large Responsibility
Unfortunately, you have heard the seemingly insurmountable challenges of medical school, the stories you hear of honor students failing or giving up can be discouraging. However you never fully understood the challenges this career presents, and how this career that gives so much to others would take so much from you. The pressure of medical school is overwhelming. You feel a constant sense of competitiveness, and the need to be the top student is a weight that never lifts, it seems inescapable. As you’re finding your balance, and dreaming of sleep at some point in the future, you begin to experience a dreaded feeling. You may be familiar with this feeling, or it may be something never before experienced, anxiety, and this is the last thing you need. Often times, students in this field, and other high-pressure fields begin to feel fake. They feel that at some point someone will find out that they really aren’t the doctor they want to be..which of course is not true.
According to the New York Times article ‘Doctors Are Human Too,’ Lisa Pryer informs us of the rise in suicide rates among physicians, and according to an international meta-analysis, it has been reported that female physicians were at twice the risk for suicide. “The job of a doctor in training is unspeakable”, Pryerfurther mentions how difficult it would be to describe life inside the hospital walls and from behind the curtain to outsiders, and the low possibility of discussing such concerns with colleagues is also distressing due to feeling the need to unequivocally display a strong demeanor, one that has seen it all, yet affected by none.
It may come as no surprise that long hours and extreme levels of stress for doctors in training is the key cause of medical school anxiety. Once in residence, doctors feel inexplicable levels of responsibility, inadequacy, and anxiety. They are exposed to the realities of life, death, pain, suffering and the realization that if they decide this isn’t the career they thought, resulting in cognitive dissonance and feelings of guilt, or of being trapped by years of dedication and thousands of dollars spent.
It’s not difficult to understand the pressure medical students have been put under to become the doctors they or their families have dreamed of. It is for this reason that more needs to be done to alleviate this stress and anxiety for our future generation of medical care practitioners.
- Make an appointment with an academic support person or counselor, Physicians are human, and those that suffer anxiety in medical school are not alone.
- Keep fit, visualize and start deep breathing exercises, yoga or Pilates will ease anxiety and stress
- Take time to rest and ensure healthy eating habits – this seems simple but unfortunately unhealthy and extensively long hours will further increase pre-existing stress, often students will indulge in fast food and caffeine for lack of time to necessary to take care of themselves
- Massage Therapy and any form of relaxation techniques can assist in releasing any negative thoughts or feelings, this form of self-care can be more beneficial than realized
- Ending the stigma of mental illness in society and within the medical care system is crucial. When depression or anxiety becomes an issue that seems too large to combat, proper treatment is essential. Medication should be an option when other techniques are inadequate.
Before we can be of service to others, it is necessary to ensure we are having our mental health requirements met first. Medical practitioners are the foundation of society; we must ensure we take care of them so they can in return help those that are in need. Healthcare facilities need to implement a safe and confidential method of assistance for both medical students and physicians to reach out to when needed. Doctors are at risk of mental illness just as anyone, finding the solution to alleviate this risk will benefit the medical care system and the lives of those committed to it.
Further Suggested Topics
- Medical Student Syndrome
- BigPharma debate
- Tips for Med School Applications