Med school is not a joke! Becoming a doctor requires a lot of effort, dedication and a passion for medicine. To become a doctor, med students go through the toughest and conscientious exam patterns.
These rigorous exam patterns, along with time pressures and emotional intensity, will make medical students highly prone to burnout. Burnout is a long-term stress reaction marked by emotional exhaustion and lack of accomplishment. The pressure of performing well can literally take a toll on your mental health, compromising your well-being. You must grow to love and enjoy the process. The goal is not just to survive med school but to thrive and succeed.
However, peer pressure can also be a major impact. The environment in med school can be quite competitive and it is as tough as it gets. Med school attracts mainly students that are highly driven, academically smart and competitive. Hence, the competition is always good but your goal should never be to overdo your peers, it should always be to do what is best for your patient.
Another pressure from your non-medic friends is always there. You will always find those friends partying or catching up with each other; reaching the next milestone of their life while you are still on the same page. It can be quite frustrating for med students. You must learn to understand and appreciate the difference between your career choice and how important it is to give your ‘all’ to medicine. You may spend your med school years miserably and comparing your life with others. Learn how to embrace medicine and how big of an impact these years and hard work is going to create in the future.
Although, those qualities that helped you reach med school may not be enough to survive. You need to change your conventional study methods and attitude. Also, you need to keep adapting dynamically to the school environment, according to the demand of the circumstances. Those who can figure out effective study methods early during their time at the school will enjoy the process. Those who cannot barely pass.
This is important as the volume of information is cumulative. It’s not like you can remember and cram stuff till exams, perform well and forget it later. Just remembering information is not enough, you also need to keep yourself updated and keep adding new information. The stakes are much higher here than you think, here you are dealing with “lives”. Forgetting or misunderstanding even a small piece of information can compromise your patient’s life.
On the other hand, med school is not just about these struggles. Look at the bigger picture of what you will accomplish after these struggles. Being a doctor means you can alleviate people’s pain and suffering. Doctors are always in high demand and the COVID-19 pandemic is proof. You can be a source of happiness for many people and their families. It is also one of the most respected and valued professions, you get to create an impact on the lives of many people and get a unique satisfaction. It is difficult and constantly challenges you to act to the best of your abilities. However, it makes you a better person and it’s all worth it.
Here, I want to mention some effective ways to enhance your med school experience:
1.Review material regularly – The volume of information is extensive, revision is the key. Choose your source properly. Regularly reviewing your notes/books can help you retain information for longer. Also, the regular revision will lower the necessity to cram and help you build better concepts. while revising, understand the material and manipulate it in your own mind.
2.Write it down – Note-taking is extremely important as you have to write down things where you can get quick access to them. Writing information down helps us remember it, keeps us active and engaged in the process. It helps to differentiate between important and unimportant information. Use lots of colour in your notes.
3.Make diagrams and flow charts – Making diagrams reinforces information and helps with your visual memory. Diagrams can help you be concise and simplify complex information. Flow charts will help you understand the progression of intricate processes in the human body and, much like diagrams, they can simplify information.
4.Create an efficient learning environment – Find out which location to study works best for you. For example, your own study space, the library or anywhere outdoors. Also, figure out if you can comprehend work better on your own or in groups. If you study better in groups, make sure to create your study group with people who have similar goals and mindsets as you.
5.Analyse yourself – Taking tests on a regular basis is critical to identify your strengths and weaknesses. It is important to keep yourself in check and give yourself a chance to improve those weaknesses. It provides an insight into one’s true comprehension and helps to identify any gaps in your knowledge. Think of it as a mock drill before your final exams, then you will become more prepared and confident doe the actual exam.
6.Ask for help – Many students have a tendency to keep quiet if they are struggling. However, it never works out well, especially in med school. Seek help from your seniors. Also, with social media, we have access to lots of experts to solve queries. Always address your doubts, no one expects a med student to know everything; you learn by asking.
7.Practise speed reading – To keep up with the extensive volume of information, you must learn the art of speed reading. Pacing will allow you to read faster while maintaining a steady level of comprehension. Do not read everything at the same speed. Those topics you find incredibly easy to understand can be read faster, while the topics you find difficult should be read slowly. This saves you time as it removes the need to re-read it.
8.Take appropriate breaks – Taking breaks is a form of self-care. Regular breaks can make you more productive and you can gain focus and energy after taking them. Also, breaks also prevent you from having unnecessary burnout.
9.Teach others – Teaching others can improve your ability to remember and retain information when you are in the teaching mindset. You will study it properly and comprehend the concepts better. If you struggle while teaching, it means there are gaps in your knowledge. However, you can go back to review the topic and fill in the gaps. It can improve your communication skills, your confidence and your leadership abilities.
10.Challenge your current ‘messed up’ lifestyle – Declutter and clean your space. Take time out to practise meditation every day. Do your exercise and eat healthily. Let go of all the worrying and practise gratitude. These small changes have big impacts.
To have more insight into the medical school world, visit Krishna’s Instagram @medcadre_