How To Deal with the Pressure of Med School

Medical school has one of the most intense educational programs. Aside from the grueling exams and studies, med students also have to undergo internships and study for their specialties.

For these reasons, medical students have the highest burnout rate. Several drop out of med school because they cannot handle the pressures involved in the training. Others get physically sick due to exhaustion and stress. This is why there will always be more med students than practicing doctors. Only a few manage to finish the courses.

Some people say the intensity of med school is designed to match the stress doctors will actually go through in real life. Others say it is necessary to weed out those who are just not ready to be doctors, whether intellectually, physically or emotionally.

Here are some tips on how to deal with the pressure of med school.

  • Take regular breaks from studying. Studying anything for a prolonged period of time would make any student lose his natural will to learn. Medicine itself requires knowing several books of general anatomy, biology and chemistry by heart, on top of whatever specialization you want.

    This constant reading, memorization and studying takes a definite long-term toll on med students. It is ideal to take regular breaks in studying. You can study for an hour straight and then take a 15-minute break to relax your eyes. You can also set a limit for how many hours you study in a day. This can be a maximum of three hours at a time or longer, dependent on your own tolerance and preference.

  • Follow a strict schedule. Having a schedule makes sure that you are able to do all the things you need to do and that you do them on time. You can section hours of the day out for classes, then schedule studying time around them. Instead of scheduling one time of the day for all the subjects, try cutting the studying into chunks by classifying specific times for each subject. This makes sure that you can focus on one subject at a time and prevents cramming all the information at the same time.
  • Have a hobby or sport. Schedule a time at least once a week for yourself. During this time, do something totally unrelated to med school. Play a team sport with friends, listen to music or just lounge in bed and sleep. Whatever your hobby or sport is, indulge in it during this time to relax and boost your energy for the next round of training and studying.
  • Take vacations. Some med students use long weekends, holidays and vacations to study some more or work for tuition. While this may be necessary, it is also recommended to take a break at least occasionally. Vacations may be a costly luxury, especially during med school, but they can be necessary to bring you back on track. A vacation can be time to recharge and remind yourself why you went to med school in the first place. Spending downtime working may help you earn more money, but it can stress you out even more.

It is important to remind yourself that you are more than just a med student. Sure, it may be the most important part of your life right now, but there is definitely more to you than studying for med school. But if you concentrate on the big picture, you will pass med school.


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