The first day of med school is one of the most memorable days of any doctor. That feeling of pride to be among a group of people selected to be able to learn how to save lives. To have someone’s life in your hands is a feeling incomparable to anything else. But with this comes a huge responsibility on your shoulders and a feeling of nervousness, inferiority, and most commonly anxiety. Anxiety about whether you can handle the pressure, or whether you will become on top of the various obstacles life throws at you on this journey to become a doctor.
Medical colleges in India provide a 5.5 years course which includes a 1-year internship in the respective hospital. The process of getting selected in one solely depends on the marks in a single entrance exam (NEET) which decides which college you get selected in, so the pressure is surreal. I was in a coaching institute which basically drilled every topic into my brain with their 7am-9pm classes which is a similar case for many of the students and which affects ones mental health drastically over the years. But after all that, getting a seat in any medical college is a great deal not just for you but your whole family. But preparing for the entrance exams is only the beginning of the amount of pressure medical school puts on you.
It’s been almost two years since I started my journey in my college and it has not become easier but I’ve been able to adapt to it as time goes. If being in a medical college is not enough of a struggle, having to deal with COVID as well is something I did not see coming on my journey. It was the first few months of my first year when I realised the pressure is heavy and being so far away from my family and comfortable surroundings succumbed to a lot of anxiety and nervousness. I’ve always dealt with anxiety in my own way and tried to remain on top of it but it overwhelmed me during my first few months but as I got more used to surroundings and classes and started making friends, COVID hit. It was the months and months of isolation and not being able to interact with others after coming out of COVID that triggered my anxiety again. But slowly and steadily with the help of great company and assuring words from my loved ones, I was able to get back on my feet. I know I can only speak from my experiences and I’ve only just started my 2nd year but just going to the hospital and watching my seniors treating and stitching patients, a wave of emotions surpasses me. Exhilarating and at the same time nervousness, whether I’ll be able to be a good doctor who patients can trust or whether I’ll be able to make my mom proud who sacrificed everything for me. At the end of the day, all I can do is try my best to be hardworking and have confidence in myself to become a great doctor.
Throughout exams and vivas and just interacting with the teachers, I’ve always felt anxious and always overthinking whether or not I’ll say the right thing or not, whether or not I’ll be laughed at if I ask anything. I would love to say it’s easy to get past this but it isn’t, it doesn’t go by so easier but I am making progress to deal with it and come on top of it. Here are a few of the ways I’ve tried to calm my anxiety and be more confident:
- Surround yourself with good vibes, good friends who support you and encourage you and help you get better.
- Breathe in for 2 seconds and out for 3 seconds when you are feeling anxious or about to give an interview or an exam.
- Be knowledgable, work hard to learn about what you are passionate about so that if anyone questions your opinion, you can speak your piece confidently.
- Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and try to speak more in front of groups of people. Slowly, it helps you feel more confident in speaking your mind.
- Hot tea or coffee helps me calm down but you can have your comfort food and it automatically makes you feel happy.
- Any type of yoga, but if you are a lazy person like me just lying down in a quiet room, focusing on your breathing makes you feel really calm and relax.
I’m really looking forward to the rest of my medical journey, sharing it on my account, and helping others in the process. If anyone reading this wants to know more about my medical journey or has questions about NEET or anything related to anxiety, do check out my account @dr.nightowl_.