The Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices have gained momentum in the modern world and with good reason: they are … Read more

Dealing With Premed Stress

premed stress

With another busy semester behind you, you might be using your summer to work or volunteer, prepare for the MCAT exam, or work on your medical school applications. But summer is also a good opportunity to catch your breath and practice a little self-care. Being a premed is stressful, but there are healthy habits you can start practicing now that will help you manage stress next semester, and later when you’re in medical school.

1. Cook at home. It’s tempting to save time by always buying meals on the go, but cooking for yourself can actually be a stress relieving activity. And it’s often the healthier choice. Plus, it will save you money! Try listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook while you cook, or turn it into a social activity by cooking with your roommate or significant other.

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5 Things in Residency That I Didn’t Expect to be Hard (But Were)

challenges

I knew residency was going to be hard. I had anticipated the long hours, weeks in a row without a two-day weekend (which, in an attempt to see the glass as half full, I have come to call vacations), and the mountain of new knowledge I would need to master. None of this came as a surprise and I was braced for them from the day I showed up for orientation. However, I’ve found that residency comes with a whole set of challenges I did not expect. If anyone had told me about them in med school, I guess I wasn’t really listening (or, more likely, was too preoccupied trying to figure out my patient’s acid/base situation by the time we rounded to take much notice). For each of us, these unexpected challenges in residency are likely to be a little different, stemming from our own strengths, weaknesses and pet peeves. Here are some of the difficulties I wasn’t expecting:

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So Little Time: Prioritizing For Healthy Time Management

Chronicles of a Med Student

As I enter the thick of studying for board exams, I’m reminded even more every day to stay calm, grounded, and keep my head clear. This is the last semester of my pre-clinical education (I can’t believe how time has flown!), and I’m caught in a balance of staying positive about that as well as juggling my hours of studying for board exams. I’ve experienced just about every emotion in the past few weeks, but one of them has always been there lurking underneath the surface: the feeling of being overwhelmed. I’ve touched on this multiple times before, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay mentally stable and sane through the medical training process! I have found myself slipping these last few weeks as I try to “do it all”, so I had to reach out.

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Drug Use Among Medical Students

Substance abuse is not too high on the list of worries for many American medical students. However, recent studies have shown that the misuse of both prescription and street drugs and alcohol might be more widespread in medical school than previously recognized.
This article looks at the phenomenon of drug use in medical school, what medical schools are doing to combat this issue, and what more needs to be done in the future to ensure that schools are matriculating physicians who are unimpaired by substance abuse disorders.
Examining the Phenomenon of Drug Use in Medical School
Before taking steps to solve substance abuse in medical school, it is important understand why it has so many people concerned, how widespread this issue is and the risk factors that make abuse more likely.

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Staying Healthy During Medical School

staying healthy

Medical students and health professional know the importance of teaching others to stay healthy, especially when it comes to the prevention of many chronic conditions like heart disease or obesity. But knowledge is not always enough and doesn’t always result in self-care. The long hours, massive amounts of studying and high levels of stress that are the norm for medical school can make it difficult to start or maintain the good habits that will keep you healthy during your med school years. However, there are important reasons for doing this–and many simple habits that can make it happen.

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Junior Doctor Stress and What Can be Done about It

junior doctor stress

Junior doctors [and residents in the US] do a valuable and sometimes life-saving job for patients. They are the future in medicine and can bring enthusiasm and fresh ideas into the profession. Despite the importance of their role to society, junior doctors have sky rocketing stress levels and many have an appalling state of mental health.
The Shocking Suicide Rate Among Doctors
It is totally shocking that in the 21st century, so many bright young doctors fall prey to depression and around 400 US physicians intentionally end their own lives annually. This means that every year in America, a million patients lose their doctor to suicide. The chance of dying by suicide is greatly increased for those in the medical profession compared with ‘lay’ people. For instance, male doctors have a 70% increased risk of dying as a result of suicide, when comparing the death rates with men from the general population. One of the reasons there are more completed suicides – ironically – may be as a result of doctor training. Doctors know the human body intimately. They know about drug dosages, they know more about the effects of drugs on the body. They know how to save a life and because of this, how to take one. A determined doctor can calculate a fatal drug dose expertly or know where to cut that would be catastrophic. They also have access to powerful, death dealing drugs that are only available on prescription to the rest of the population. This may be why there are so many successful doctor suicides each year.

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Up in Smoke: The Challenges of Physician Burnout

The days are long, the nights short – unless you’re on call or night float, in which case that is reversed. Regardless of where you are in your training, whether in medical school or already out of residency, there will be days when it all just feels like too much. Too much work, too much emotional energy expended, too much illness. Too many petty tasks or meaningless phone calls or purposeless turf wars. Hopefully, those times will be few and far between, buoyed by the days where you make a tricky diagnosis, have an appreciative patient, or just get out of the hospital with daylight left and go for a run. However, for a significant number of physicians, these despondent days stack one atop the next, stretching into weeks where they feel to exhausted to invest energy in their patients, let alone themselves. These individuals are likely suffering from burnout.

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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

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