Stress Management Medical Students

Mary Gormandy White
Medical School

When it comes to acquiring new techniques for stress management, medical students can certainly use all the tips and suggestions they can get.

Medical School and Stress

Attending medical school is certainly not something that people assume is going to be easy or stress-free. However, many med students don't really stop and think about just how stressful the process of studying to become a physician is really going to be. Even the best and brightest medical students experience stress during classroom training, hospital rotations, residency requirements, and board exam preparations.

It's important to remember that stress is a natural part of life. Experiencing stress can be good, but it can also have negative effects on one's well being. What makes stress a positive or negative factor lies with how effectively the person experiencing the stress is able to manage it.

Stress Management for Medical Students Tips

You can't change the fact that becoming a doctor is a stress inducing endeavor that requires long hours and hard work. While it's not possible to take the stress out of medical school, it's certainly possible to learn and use stress relief strategies that can help you handle it better. The strategies for stress management medical students that you master while you're in school can serve you well as you move into your career as practicing physician in the years to come.

Remember: You are not Alone

When you're feeling job and school related stress, it's easy to feel like you're alone. It can be especially frustrating to see classmates who seem to whiz through their studies without being fazed by stress. If you're feeling like you're the only student in your medical school class who is feeling overwhelmed, there's a very good chance that you are wrong.

Virtually every medical student experiences extreme stress throughout his or her studies. The medical school experience, by definition, is stressful. If other people seem to be less stressed than you, it's not because they are experiencing fewer stressors than you. It may be true that some of your classmates make better use of stress management techniques than you do, but that's something you can easily change. It's up to you to choose to learn and follow effective strategies for managing stress.

Physician Heal Thyself

Because medical studies can be so challenging and time consuming, it's not uncommon for students to neglect their own health while in school. Medical students often put in long hours studying and working, without getting proper nutrition, regular exercise, or a sufficient amount of rest. While being devoted to your studies is important to your success, it isn't going to do you or your future patients any good if you neglect your own well being. You need to remind yourself regularly that a healthy body is much better equipped to deal with stress than one that is unhealthy. The physical symptoms of stress are real, and they can have a serious negative impact on your long term health. No matter how busy you are, it's vital for you to take care of yourself. It's important to develop healthy habits during your first year of medical school, so you'll have the stamina to take you through each year of your studies with success.

It's a mistake to think that taking time away from your studies to focus on your own health is wasted time. You should know from your pre-med studies that the human body can't function without proper care. When you look at the time it will take to recover from a serious bout with exhaustion or the other health conditions that can arise if you don't look after yourself properly, suddenly it won't seem like a waste of time to get enough sleep, eat right, and work out regularly.

Avoid Med Student Hypochondria

Many medical students bring additional and unnecessary stress on themselves because they allow themselves to start wondering if they have many of the conditions they are studying. While you do need to stay in touch with your own physical condition, you can't diagnose yourself with every disease that you study. Doing so will result in severe and unnecessary stress, not to mention hypochondria.

While you're going through the process of learning to recognize and diagnose medical problems, it's important to avoid internalizing everything you learn. While you're in medical school, you're going to learn about a lot of different diseases and conditions, and you're going to come across some with symptoms that remind you of yourself. If you're truly concerned, get a check up to put your mind at ease so you can rid yourself of the stress of wondering, and focus on studying and staying healthy.

Get Mentally Prepared for the Job

Once you start participating in clinical rotations, you're going to start dealing with the face to face human interaction part of being a doctor. There's a big difference in studying disease states and actually working with people who have serious medical problems. It's important to prepare yourself for what dealing with real patients is going to be like. The stress of dealing with sickness and death is very real, and it's a necessary part of working in the medical profession. Many medical students don't take the time to get mentally prepared for what it's going to be like to work with people who are in pain, frightened, and extremely ill. You'll be much better equipped for the reality of working in a hospital if you prepare yourself by mastering stress management techniques before you enter this part of your med school experience.

Preparing for Your Medical Career

One of the reasons that the medical school experience is so stressful is to prepare students for what it's going to be like to work as physicians. Those who can't handle stress aren't likely to excel in the medical field, because the profession is characterized by stress.

If your medical school offers stress reduction workshops for students, take advantage of them. If not, look for other resources, such as stress relief seminars or yoga classes in the local community that might be beneficial to you. The earlier in your med school career that you find and master the stress management techniques that work for you, the sooner you'll be ready to tackle the task of learning the full complement of skills necessary to become a first rate medical professional.

Stress Management Medical Students