Medical school is a rigorous but rewarding journey. It is a repository of quizzes, mountainous course load, a treasure trove of assignments, the stress of USMLE Step 1 preparation, contending with clinical training and more. There are many obstacles that befall every medical student in order to succeed in an MD program. The pressures of studying and passing exams can have a great impact on a students’ mental health and wellness. This is why maintaining mental health in medical school is critically important to succeeding in a Caribbean medical school and becoming a great doctor.
However, creating a sustainable study schedule and cultivating habits will help you avoid burnout and enable you to better care for your mental wellbeing. Here are some effective preventive strategies and management tricks that Caribbean medical students should follow to take care of themselves during medical school and cope with the immense levels of stress during the four-years of education.
Use a Planner to Stay Organized
The number and difficulty level of courses that medical students have to contend with are nothing compared to what they were accustomed to in school. Performing well and staying organized is the key to success in medical school. You will inevitably realize your goals when you have a planner at your back to keep track of every single activity. Find a planner equipped with helpful features such as, month view, and weekly pages to write down notes, and assignment deadlines.
There are a plethora of online calendars such as Google Calendar, Zoho Calendar,30 Boxes, and WhichTime, which can help you track your assignments and obligations. It is advised to import your academic calendar to any of these online calendars to manage everything on time.
Diligently Review Your Academic Calendar
If you don’y want anxiety to get the better of you, it is strongly recommended to review the courses you are going to take throughout the year, well in advance. Check the course structures of your school. When you get to grips with the timing of your classes, exams, and clinical rotations, you will be better able to plan your semester breaks to rejuvenate your mind. Staying up-to-date with your medical school academic calendar helps you keep your competitive edge.
Carving Out Time for Exercise
In medical school, it is important to set aside some time to work out, as it not only helps you promote your physical and mental health, but it also makes you feel good. It is advised to go for a walk before or after your day, or simply do some crunches in your room. Some mindfulness techniques such as yoga and meditation are the best approach to fitness, helping you clear your mind and regain your focus. Trust me, taking sparing some time for exercise, no matter how packed your schedule is, makes you feel relaxed and does wonders for your mental health in medical school.
Getting Enough Sleep
Due to a rigorous study schedule, loads of course assignments and volunteer work, it becomes nearly impossible for medical students to catch up on school. However, you should try to get enough sleep, as sleep deprivation contributes to a high level of stress and depression in medical students. Manage your schedule in a way that you find enough sleep time each night, so you can minimize the chances of mental stress and perform well.
Keeping up with Your Lectures
Before every lecture, it is advised to preview the course material to create a road-map in your head and get a feel of where it is going. After the lecture, spend a few minutes to review a lecture. Regularly reviewing your lecture notes can help you absorb and retain the information better. Reviewing all your lectures over the weekend and creating relevant flashcards is a great learning and memorization technique that can turn poor students into top medical students.
Joining a Study Group
Working with your peers in a study group is an excellent way to learn faster and smarter. It helps you get fresh perspectives on a topic, fill in gaps in your notes, get better ideas for note taking, learn new study skills, and develop critical thinking and communication skills. You can learn new ways of committing to memory intricate concepts and toughest medical school courses such as anatomy, pharmacology, immunology, surgery, neurology, and pathology. In addition, you will learn the best learning resources, share unique insights, learn from each other, give and receive motivation and emotional support from fellow students and group members.
Speaking to a Counselor
When you are depressed and ridden with pangs of despair, hopelessness, and bouts of frustration, it is advised to talk to the counselor available at your school. Many Caribbean medical schools have in place highly experienced psychiatrists and counselors who are available to help students manage anxiety and come up with solutions that work for them. Speaking to a medical school psychologist as early as possible is a worthwhile opportunity to help you succeed in medical school.
Steps Medical Schools Should Take
Medical schools should create an environment where mental health is openly discussed and should take preventive measures to promote good mental health and give appropriate support to students to ensure their health and wellbeing. It is the responsibility of medical schools to explain the mental health support program they offer to help students deal with medical school stress and provide advice on supporting students with mental health concerns, such as anxiety and depression.
Medical school is an arduous undertaking. Maintaining your mental health and wellbeing is critically important to stay ahead of the curve. These effective strategies and stress management techniques will help you deal with the pressures of medical school and grow psychologically and clinically as a medical student.