De-Stress the Distress of Medical School: A prescription for stress reduction

 “I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.”
― Tina Fey, Bossypants
I believe I have spent much of medical school fairly blorft. Elevated levels of stress seem to be a universal medical student experience. Studies looking at medical students around the globe – from Pakistan and Malaysia to Greece and India – show we all struggle with elevated levels of stress1Stress, as it is used today, was first defined in 1936 by endocrinologist Hans Selye as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”2. That definition highlights the point that not all stress is bad – a certain level can actually be useful during medical school. Knowing the importance of Step I board scores was stressful, but undoubtedly drove me to study harder than I would have had I treated it as no big deal. However, sustained, elevated levels of stress can be detrimental to both mental and physical well-being. For example, stress levels have been found to be correlated with depression and anxiety amongst medical students3. The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce and manage your stress.

Signs of stress

Read more