To All Medical Students....

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caringDO

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Dear Incoming / Current Medical Students,
If you are feeling depressed, suicidal, highly anxious, and stressed out in medical school and questioning your choices entering into this field you are not alone. I just wanted to create a support thread. Let's normalize and recognize medical school environment can be highly toxic, draining, and is making many of us suicidal. There have been many medical students/residents/physicians deaths in the last 5 years. Just google them. You are not alone. You are not alone in thinking medical school is hell, overwhelming and just straight up insanity at times. Unfortuantely this is the reality of the system. We are living in an age where many physicians (esp females) are leaving the field post residency. Many physicians are overworked, unhappy and telling their own kids to not go into medicine. To all lurking mothers (aka tiger asian mommas) on these SDN threads (yeah we know u exist). Please look after your kids wellbeing. You have no idea the stress all of us are under and no we just didn't become "stupid" overnight. to the depressed, anxious students right now..... im just here to give you validation. Out of 5 close friends of mine, 2 are in therapy, 1 drinks himself to oblivion post exams every time, and 1 is severely depressed. The other one is your typical, "I dont show stress nothing bothers me type" student. He does very well! Obviously there will be kids that do well in med school and thrive on this constant anxiety and stress. The problem is the vast majority of us are stressed out. Just recently my friend took step 1 and it wasn't good. She's been crying every night. I myself felt depressed and felt like I had to wear a mask and acted like I knew everything during labs. Im not saying this to scare incoming med students but.... your about to entire a whole new world and it will bear down on you. If your a struggling, depressed anxious or whatever med student, post your turmoil down below! Vent it out and share......its ok to not be ok!

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I will say that I have always been the very anxious type but have also used that anxiety to thrive and be efficient. That being said, I was always so excited for medical school and to actually learn cool stuff. I always have studied medical terms in my free time. Now that have gotten in (seems like by the skin of my teeth), I am starting to worry that I am not smart enough for this journey and that maybe I shouldn't have gotten in... I am trying to tell myself to not think this, that everyone is in my boat, and that the school I got into was not on my radar ever so they must genuinely like me. Thought I would share my story and start the conversation. Faking optimism until we make it! We've got this!
 
Dear medical students,

Medical school is hard. Residency is harder. My attendings tell me that first year of being an attending is worse than both residency and medical school. Unfortunately it is right of passage, and there isn't a lot of holding hands. Stress will be part of our lives - we will reach our breaking point, then learn to cope, then reach our breaking point, and learn to cope, until we reach a steady state. It's not pleasant, but its reality. The upside is we get to do things no one else in the world can do, and get paid for it to boot.
 
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The most important thing of this to remember is the (a) you're not alone in how you feel, what you think, etc. and (b) there is always another path.

Regarding A per this AAMC article, one study found 30% of med students and residents suffering from depression (its likely more), and 10% reporting suicidal thoughts in the LAST 2 WEEKS. I assure you, this is likely underreporting as well. Talk to your fellow students and residents, talk to your physician (get one if you don't have one), and if you've found that you're using alcohol or a substance to cope, its OK to get treatment.
 
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Many medical schools have an on-campus student mental health center with a few visits set aside per year for free to medical students (my university had 5 visits per year with no billing to insurance at all, just straight part of being a student). Unfortunately, students can be unaware of these services. Please reach out to your student mental health center if you need to talk.
 
Especially for premed studs about to start med school:
Develop support around yourself (friends, family, counselor, etc) and find ways to keep a life-work balance. It doesn't get easier once you start - it gets harder - and starting earlier with good practices to help your emotional wellbeing will serve you well in the long run. Medical education isn't just a marathon...it's a marathon with intermittent sprints along the way, but you're always going to be running.
 
I would avoid using school resources. Mental health in medicine is done extreeemmeellyy poorly and any info could potentially used against you. Its sick, but its the way of things. Doctors are not allowed to make mistakes or have mental issues. Welcome to the suck.

If needed, goto a private therapist and say absolutely nothing to your school unless absolutely needed (failing, approaching dismissal, etc)
 
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M
I would avoid using school resources. Mental health in medicine is done extreeemmeellyy poorly and any info could potentially used against you. Its sick, but its the way of things. Doctors are not allowed to make mistakes or have mental issues. Welcome to the suck.

If needed, goto a private therapist and say absolutely nothing to your school unless absolutely needed (failing, approaching dismissal, etc)
For my school at least, the administration would have no idea whether you even made an appt or not with the clinic associated with the school. HIPAA and all ya know. I can't imagine it is much different at most other places
 
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I just listened to a Sawbones podcast episode about this exact subject. Medical school and beyond is a stressful environment and the attitude of just "grin and bear it" has gone on for too long. We as the younger generation can affect change. We can start a new culture of medicine that includes support and improvement of conditions. Doing things "cause that's how it's always been done" is what got us here. We can still be doctors and be humans too. Not saying it won't be hard, cause it will.

"If it was easy, everyone would do it."

But we can still be humans.
 
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Med school and residency are 100% attitude driven. The tendency is to lose perspective and complain/whine. You’ll be surrounded by classmates who do it, and they’ll pull you in and help you hate your life if you allow it.

Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but none of it is that difficult, and if you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t feel that bad. I often get in trouble with my wife because I don’t remember med-school and residency as being terrible. I sorta sailed through it all, perhaps because I was so busy I didn’t have time to stew too much. But for the first time in my life, I was also doing something (vocationally) that I absolutely loved. My wife had it way worse as a (mostly) single parent for those 7 years. There’s some resentment there, to the process, not to me.

But attitude can go a long way to reducing the stress and strain. Keep your eye on the prize. A guaranteed 6figure salary and a pretty good QOL (for most of us) to go with it.
 
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