Prophylaxis for Medical School Burnout

6:49:00 PM


  1. Get a good support system. No man is an island. You need your classmates, friends and family in order to survive medical school. Your classmates especially your blockmates will be with you from first year med proper until internship.You will laugh with them, shed tears with them in times of frustration and exhaustion from academic works and even celebrate victories together. You will spend a great chunk of your life with your blockmates. Make sure that you develop a good relationship with them. You need their encouragement and comfort especially when you feel so tired from all hospital works.

    Studying in medical school consumes a lot of time. It's so easy to isolate yourself from your friends. It's very easy to use exams and papers as excuse every time they invite you for dinner or outing. Please do not isolate yourself from your friends. You need them to keep you sane. You need them in order for you to have a balanced life in medical school. You need rest from time to time. Keep an open line between you and your family. Don't forget to inform them about the things that you're going through. Whenever you have a free day, spend some time with them. Aside from allowance (haha!), you need their love and support. Our family especially our parents are our greatest cheerleaders.
  2. Manage your expectations. You can't always get what you want in medical school. You will be surrounded by the best of the best when you go to medical school. Your classmates are not just inherently intelligent but also have excellent work ethic and dedication. Maybe during your undergraduate training, you're always in the 95th percentile but it will not always be the case for most students in medical school. It's a good attitude to always hope for the best and expect a lot for yourself. However, you should set practical and attainable goals. Never ever bite off more than you can chew. Otherwise you'll burn yourself out and crash. It's good to be omptimistic but do not confuse it with having ambitious, impractical and unrealistic goals. Just to give you comfort, it's normal to feel that you're the dumbest person in your class, at least for me it seems pretty normal.
  3. Study for learning and not for high grades. Don't pressure yourself too much to get good grades or to be at the top of the class. Of course you need to study in order to pass and graduate from medical school and enter your chosen residency program. But there is more to medicine than just getting good grades. Focus on the skills. Learn from your consultants, take advantage of every patient encounter to master not just the science but also the art of medicine. Learn the art of doctor-patient relationship, how to deal with patients, the right manner of talking to them. It's always good to master the pathophysiology of the disease but please take time to study how to explain the disease to our patients in a manner that they will understand. Know that patient education is very important and this entails learning how to explain diseases and treatment in Filipino language. Hear their stories and you will surely learn a lot from your patients. If we want to deliver the best healthcare to our patients, yes, we need to be competent. But it doesn't end there. We also need to be respectful and caring doctors who always put the welfare of our patients as our topmost priority.

    I remember Dr. Heizel Manapat-Reyes' speech during the recent student convocation in UP College of Medicine. She told us that once we start our medical practice, our patients wouldn't know the grades we got from medical school and they probably wouldn't even care about it. What's important for the patients is that their doctors are respectful, caring and good at explaining diseases and treatment. Dr. Ron Baticulon also said before, Gusto ng mga pasyente yung magaling na doktor pero bumabalik-balik sila sa mabait na doktor. Maximize your stint in medical school in order to become a competent and at the same time empathic doctor.
  4. Continue doing your craft even while in medical school. Never give up the things that you love doing. If you are a singer before medical school, continue singing. If you are a dancer, go on and continue dancing. Whatever your passion is, don't let medical school take it away from you. Things like these are very good outlets whenever you're stressed. There are a lot of clubs and organizations in medical school. I'm sure that whatever your passion is, there's an organization that can help you continue with your passion. It also helps when you apply for residency program or for further studies because they can see that you are a well-rounded person.
  5. Have faith in God. Medical school will push you beyond your limits. It is a very humbling experience and it will make you realize that you are a finite and limited being. Turn to the infinite God. Seek Him, know Him and you will find joy and comfort from Him. It doesn't mean that when you have God you will already get high grades and you will not experience challenges in medical school. There will be challenges and tough times but you are assured that you have a God who will stand up and fight for you. Do not compromise your daily devotion and personal prayer time. Make sure that you still attend fellowships and Sunday service. Immerse yourself with Bible verses to remind you that you are never alone in this long journey. Remind yourself that even though people around you don't understand what you're going through, you have a Heavenly Father who knows you and loves you so much. He died so that you can have a life, a joyful and fulfilling life. He rose again from the dead giving us hope that we can also have that eternal life.
I hope these simple tips can help you in your medical school journey. Do you have other tips on how medical students can prevent burnout? I would love to know your thoughts, please comment it below. God bless you!

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