Medical students work and study hard for years to become doctors and surgeons, and as a result, almost everyone will face some sort of studying burnout at some point. Fortunately, there are things students can do to avoid the “stuck in a rut” feeling, and even the American Medical Association (AMA) is on board.
Why Burnout Occurs
Medical students typically enter the field because they want to work with patients to save their lives or at least provide them with a better quality of life. Before that can occur, there are many years of study that must take place, and the difficulty of the study – the sheer time spent staring at textbooks or listening to lectures – is daunting, at best. The overwhelming amount of information and study leads to burnout in about 45% of medical students according to a study conducted by the AMA and Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
What Doctors (Former Medical Students) Recommend
Burnout is definitely real, and it can take a toll on a student’s ability to succeed in their studies, and in some cases, it can be detrimental to their careers, too. Fortunately, there are things that students can do to avoid burnout altogether, and many of these same things will go a long way toward resolving burnout once it occurs.
- Take care of your body and mind. The four facets include eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and meditating. It may seem simple but failing to cover even one of these tenets of keeping yourself healthy will have a serious impact on your wellbeing and can quickly cause burnout.
- Seek support from other medical students. There’s a reason why there’s a support group for everything, and when it comes to medical school, your peers are often as effective as therapy when it comes to avoiding burnout. Talk to them about your struggles and be there to help support them, too.
- Ask your school counselors about support programs. Today’s world is much different than it was even a few decades ago. Medical professionals understand that the rigors of getting an education can be exhausting and overwhelming, so many universities have numerous wellness programs in place that you can take advantage of. Aside from simply learning how to be a doctor, it’s important to learn how to deal with stress and pressure that comes along with not only your education, but also your choice of career.
Mental Healthcare is Important
Finally, it’s important to note that serious burnout can be the result (or even the cause) of anxiety disorders and significant depression. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention notes that between 300 and 400 doctors die by suicide each year, yet very few physicians actually seek mental healthcare due to confidentiality concerns. Today, the AMA in partnership with other organizations works to provide confidential, affordable, and accessible mental healthcare for medical students and physicians alike.
Burnout is indeed real, and it’s actually quite prevalent among medical students. To avoid it, or to overcome it, make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Nourish your body and mind and seek the support of your peers and your university whenever you can. Finally, make sure you access mental healthcare as needed to keep yourself healthy.