“burnout for medical students and how it impacted their health and performance – linked with coaching”
Are you burning out in med-school? Well, You’re Not Alone.
Did you know that burnout and depression are now flagged as priority mental health issues at universities? A staggering 12.9% to 35%1 of medical students are suffering from mental health issues while doing their medical studies. Given this, it should come as no surprise that a whopping 11% of students consider dropping out due to burnout. That’s 11% too much, especially when there are help and resources available.
This might come as a considerable shock to you even if you’re in medical school. Burnouts are incredibly stigmatized professionally and personally. But the current burnout rates are incredibly high. And it’s due time that we do something about it.
Studies indicate that there are constant triggering factors that contribute to burnout, they are workload, finance, and exhaustion2. Sound familiar? There’s no need to worry. Being aware of the risk factors and taking care of yourself can save you a lot of time and health.
Learning coping mechanisms should be a part of every medical school training, but as of right now, it’s not. That’s why it’s crucial that you take your emotional health seriously, or you might do your physical health some damage.
Even if you’re a doctor, you have to take care of yourself, so that you can care for others.
What happens when you burn out?
Let’s examine the definition of burnout3 so that you know what to look out for. Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that occurs when you undergo long term stress in your job. Indications of burnout include feelings that:
• Every day is difficult.
• Excessive fatigue every day
• Lack of joy or interest in your work
• Responsibilities feel overwhelming
• Escapist behaviors like drinking excessively
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Even physical symptoms such as chest pain, sleeplessness, or heart palpitations
When you experience burnout, your health takes a toll. Excessive stress can cause fatigue, insomnia, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and lower your immune system – making you vulnerable to bacteria and infection.
2 Boni, Robson Aparecido Dos Santos et al. “Burnout among medical students during the first years of undergraduate school: Prevalence and associated factors.”
How do you recover from burnout?
It’s never too late to tackle burnout, never. But the earlier you decide to deal with it, the better. As such, your performance in school and in your social life won’t take as much of a toll, and you will have less to rebuild. It’s like when you have a hole in your jeans, the earlier you fix it, the less time it has to spread.
Once you learn these techniques, you can use them again if you feel a burnout coming your way. A part of learned burnout techniques should ALWAYS include how to spot a burnout. We’re all unique like snowflakes, and as such your “tells” might be different than your neighbors.
Re-Evaluate the Simple Things In Life
There are plenty of methods you can use to avoid burnout and to manage stress appropriately. An easy one is to begin meditating in the morning or evening. There are plenty of apps you can download on your phone. Meditating can help you manage stress and anxiety – as well as strengthening your focus. So when you study, you are more likely to retain more information.
Dealing with the source of your stress is another critical factor when dealing with medical student burnout. This stress is likely to stick with you until you deal with it. That’s how medical student carryover burnouts into their professional lives. And that’s not how you make a profitable and happy career. It is rather the opposite.
Many medical students that I have worked with find time management a great source of concern. It’s an aggravator when it comes to stress and performance anxiety. This is something that I can help you deal with. Each time management case differs. But the overall behavior that I can identify is overthinking and a lack of sleep.
Getting Enough Sleep
Remember when you had a bedtime? You should probably go back to that. Each and every one of us, including Elon Musk, performs better when 6-8 hours of sleep. Giving your brain a rest is necessary for you to retain information in the long run. If you spend day and night studying, but can’t remember anything – is it even worth it?
Establishing A Work-Life Balance
Coming to terms with taking care of yourself is difficult! Especially if you’re used to working yourself to the bone every day. Admitting that you can’t continue the first step, reaching out for help is the second.
Work-life balance is no mumbo-jumbo hippie term. It’s the key to a successful professional life and a happy personal one. Although it might be challenging to believe it, you can have both. All you need is tailored guidance and an open mind.
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