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MD & DO M2 experiencing serious burnout; how do you recover from burnout?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by COQueen, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. COQueen


    Nov 3, 2016
    I'm not a smart kid AT ALL and have a very limited clinical/medical background. But, through very hard work, dozens of all-nighters, and raw determination, I was able to honor many classes during M1 and finished the year in the top of my class.

    Fast forward to M2 and everything's a mess. Despite continued hard work, I barely passed the first 2 blocks and had to meet with my school's dean and learning specialist. I had to quit my research projects and club leadership positions. We are currently in the 3rd block and it doesn't look like I can pull off a good enough grade to pull myself out.
    I don't really know what else to do. I justified my poor performance in block 1 and 2 by saying that I was having a slow start after summer, drowning in too many resources, and focusing too much on "board relevant" material. I'm not in jeopardy of failing out (yet) but the school has classified me as an "at risk" student. My good performance in M1 seems to be easing the minds of administrators at my school that this is "temporary" and that I'll keep passing, albeit by the skin of my teeth.

    I'm just incredibly burnt out. I go through 10-20 PowerPoint slides and then go on a YouTube/Facebook break for an hour. I'm not studying during the week and I find myself really behind before a quiz/exam. I just can't find the motivation/drive to study and do work anymore, and it's getting worse every week. There are students in my class who are able to get through the class material and have enough time left over in the day to do board prep stuff (like work through a QBank).

    Any advice on how to deal with burnout, especially during M2? Any books, articles, advice, or resources ya'll recommend to get my **** together again?

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  3. tick_tock400

    tick_tock400 2+ Year Member

    Sep 19, 2014
    Can you take a few weeks off and defer this block? At my school, under 1 month of deferring stuff is not a leave of absence, and you can just remake the stuff later at your own convenience, and this way you likely won't fail your current block either. That'll hopefully give you enough time to recover from some burn out, because that's what it sounds like you're dealing with. You're almost done as well with M2, so kudos to you! And you know you can do it after doing so awesome during M1, so this is likely just some fatigue catching up with you. I liked M3 SO much better as it didn't have the constant, anxiety-provoking testing for me. Hopefully you'll be there very soon :)
  4. Ace Khalifa

    Ace Khalifa I am the definition of awesomeness Banned 2+ Year Member

    Jun 18, 2014
    STEP 1 EXISTS. That should be the framework of why you should still be motivated during 2nd year. I felt burnt out at times last year as an MS2, but I was able to push thru and score decently on step 1 b/c I realized that I couldn't let the burnout get the best of me. You need to take breaks every now and then (but not to the point where you don't study at all) to recharge. You need to focus on yourself and your goals and not worry about what everyone else is doing (easier said than done, I know). As for board resources, you shouldn't be overloading on so many of them. Study from your coursework, follow along in First Aid and Pathoma, do USMLE-Rx or Kaplan questions for practice. I will also put a plug in for Boards and Beyond (basically Pathoma but for every subject - explains almost everything in FA very nicely). Finally, if you still feel burnt out, you can always talk to someone trained to help people with these issues (aka therapist of some sort). There is no shame in doing so; I know several of my classmates who did and it worked wonders for them. You did extremely well during first year; there is no doubt that you are more than capable of doing well during second year too. Good luck!
    DokterMom, pbrocks15, COQueen and 5 others like this.
  5. JamesPotterMS-3


    Jun 17, 2017
    Have you considered taking a week off for a break, maybe visit family or take a mini-vacation? Sounds like it's been a rough start and all you may need is a small "reset."
  6. zero0

    zero0 everything i hug dies 2+ Year Member

    Jul 21, 2014
    Hmm thinking back on it, I think I personally overcame burnout by reverting to an empty husk of a human being who mostly flies on auto-pilot. It's a survival mechanism I've noticed many of my peers have grown fond of. Do whatever you gotta do, short of murder and self-destruction.
  7. Crayola227

    Crayola227 The Oncoming Storm Physician 2+ Year Member

    Oct 22, 2013
    All of Space & Time
    search my post history for "self care" I wrote a really long post on the topic I'm having a hard time finding for you right now
    DokterMom likes this.
  8. 68PGunner

    68PGunner 5+ Year Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    By not giving a crap about trivial things in medical schools. It's very easy to get sucked into the med school sink hole of caring for every meticulous details and bitching about every single stuff that doesn't go according to your expectations. There are only three things to do in the first two years of medical school:

    1) Pass all classes on first try
    2) Kill boards
    3) Avoid being at the bottom quartile in class
  9. Foot Fetish

    Foot Fetish

    Jun 4, 2016
    Research is very important if you want to get into one of the uber-competitive specialty. Unless you plan on taking a research year, you SHOULD be making time for research projects as an M2. It will only get harder in M3 when you have to work all day and then come home to study for shelf exams at night. No derm PI is going to be impressed by your 260 Step 1 score if you have 0 pubs. In specialties like that, killing the boards is a minimum requirement. Don't be myopic, kids.
    Osteoth likes this.
  10. COQueen


    Nov 3, 2016
    this was amazing. Thank you. I printed this out and pasted it on my wall Sunday night and it has definitely helped out.
    Ace Khalifa and pbrocks15 like this.
  11. COQueen


    Nov 3, 2016

    I really appreciate all the advice on the thread. While it's easy to get help from faculty, I really have a tough time going to fellow students for help and really appreciate the advice given here.

    I think the problem is I came into M2 ready to work hard and with certain academic goals (keep honoring classes, get into a research project, be more involved in clubs, etc...) but, once my grades slipped early on, I really let myself go and stopped caring altogether.
    I am ready to move on and just want to forget about the past couple of months. I have a long weekend coming up in 2 weeks that I plan to spend with out-of-town non-medschool friends and I'm hoping that gives me the "reset" I desperately need.
  12. DrMissWV


    Mar 4, 2017
    I take your point, and I agree that research is a great feather in your cap if you’re fortunate enough to get to do some during Preclinical years. That said, I disagree that someone who is already feeling overwhelmed and/or “over it” SHOULD be overextending themselves with extra commitments beyond the demands of M2. Frankly, M2 is already like running a year-long sprint. If you need to downsize in order to handle the burden, I say kudos to you for being so self-aware.

    By the way, for what it’s worth, I found 3rd year to be an incredibly freeing experience. Sure you’re working all day and coming home to study at night, but you’re not just doing it to pass a test anymore. You can come home exhausted and satisfied from the work you did and material you studied for YOUR patients. Not to mention you finally have time to focus on taking care of yourself. Personally, I remember feeling so guilty any time I did something for myself during M2 because “I should be studying for boards right now.”

    Take a breath. And if you want a great book, try With Winning in Mind by Lanny Basham.

    In my opinion, there’s only one hard and fast rule to med school: Just survive somehow.
    DokterMom likes this.
  13. gapyearguppy

    gapyearguppy 2+ Year Member

    Sep 15, 2014
    Once I feel the hazy beginnings of burn out I give myself a day or two to just do NOTHING. It's better than going to my study spot, and sitting there all day with my books open wondering why I can't study. Take the day off here and there.

    The anxiety and doom and gloom of step looming over my head really pushed me 2nd year lol it sounds terrible but it worked. I also find myself believing that I'm behind everyone else and that propels me too. Keeps me on my toes. But that's how I use my neuroticism to my advantage.
  14. DokterMom

    DokterMom 2+ Year Member

    Mar 1, 2013
    Can you make yourself adhere to a study schedule with moderate focused study periods interspersed at predetermined intervals with dedicated breaks that involve physical exercise in a different setting -- run, fast walk, lift, spin, aerobics? Get more oxygen to your brain and blood cells and give your eyes and your brain a chance to focus on something different. Use a kitchen timer to stay on track.

    If you find you can't concentrate for a given block, end that activity anyway when the schedule says so, take your break, then move on to the next activity. You can come back to the 'short-changed' block if needed at the end of your planned activities.

    And of course, take care of the basics -- decent nutrition and sufficient sleep. And don't rule out talking to a professional. For discrete problems like burnout, short term therapy can be very, very effective.

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