It’s that dreaded season again: spring. Whether you’re a fourth-year getting ready to cross the country for residency or a first-year readying for exams, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that spring is a stressful time for most of us.
What did your past few months look like? Did your overflowing email inbox, the patient write-up you forgot to turn in, the lagging research project you started summer of your first year and those long nights cramming First Aid come to mind? If so, you’re in the right place.
At this point, most medical students either know someone obsessed with podcasts, or are obsessed with the medium themselves. With shows on everything from broader pop culture to reading novels as spiritual texts, the podcasting boom allows anyone — including medical students — to engage their most niche interests on their own schedule. Given, however, the diversity and sheer volume of podcasts out there, it is be easy to become overwhelmed or miss a quality show or episode. Below are eight episodes, ranging from traditional interviews to creative nonfiction, that even the busiest medical student should take a break to listen to.
As medical students, we are familiar with the Triple Aim for health care improvement in the United States — to improve the patient care experience, improve the health of populations, and reduce the per capita costs of healthcare. While the move towards a quality-focused and patient-centered health system is encouraging in many ways, it cannot be accomplished by a workforce of burned out and jaded professionals.
Medical school can be an overwhelming journey for many students as the pace, quantity of content, and work hours far exceeds even the most prepared students’ expectations. The overall demand of medical school makes having a “normal life” very challenging; that is, the ability to attend happy hours or frequent social events, see local professional teams play or cultivate hobbies all become difficult to orchestrate between the endless pages of reading or practice UWorld questions.
“All an average medical student wants in life is knowledge, fitness, travel, individuality, and a sense of direction (is that too much to ask?)”
One of my bucket-list goals before I die is to climb Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro. Where did this come from? I’m not entirely sure. Yet something about climbing the tallest two mountains in the world has always appealed to me; I like challenges, and I can see no greater challenge to my physical and mental fortitude. However, even though I try to work out regularly, I’ve never gone rock climbing in my life. Therefore, keeping this bucket-list goal in mind, I decided to grab some friends and go rock climbing for my next adventure.
Unlike me, a lot of my medical school peers are involved in dance activities, from ballroom to hip-hop, and claim that going to dance classes really helps them shake off any negative feelings from the day. Intrigued, I did a little research. Sure enough, I found several articles espousing the beneficial effects of dance on mental health.
Despite its omnipresence, Time seemed to be in reliably short supply throughout the year. I keenly felt its absence: less time to cook and clean. Less time to exercise; less time to date. Less time to read and to write.
Earlier in the summer, I was speaking with a friend from medical school while we were studying for Step 1, the big test taken by medical students at the end of second year, and he remarked, “There’s really nothing quite like this. We probably don’t even realize how strange it is since we’re so ingrained in it.” He was right: the demands of medical school often make it an all-encompassing undertaking, one that can be difficult to explain to those outside it.
The topic of burnout is huge in today’s medical community. Multiple articles and studies have been published demonstrating that burnout is prevalent in all levels of medical training from the day-one medical student to the most senior practicing attending.
A very important topic is that of mental health in medical practitioners, notably medical students. According to a study in the Student British Medical Journal, 30% of medical students report having a mental health condition — with a majority of 80% stating the level of available support was poor or only moderately adequate. This column was born from these alarming statistics and aims to stimulate conversation on mental health in medical students, from providing suggestions on how to maintain one’s mental health to discussing the taboo and stigma surrounding conversations on mental health in practitioners and students, and how to eliminate it.