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How can I best practice self-care?

Activity Forums USMLE Step 1 Forum How can I best practice self-care?

This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Dr. David Delnegro MST USMLE Tutor Dr. David Delnegro MST USMLE Tutor 2 years, 3 months ago.

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    Lots of us struggle with stress management during medical school. Especially while studying for high stakes exams. Mental health and self-care are critically important, and medical students are no exception. At the beginning of medical school, medical students have better-than-average mental health scores compared to education- and age-matched controls, but two years later, medical students are much more likely to report depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and substance use.

    So, I encourage you to consider:

    You will be challenged more than you have ever before been challenged. You will get through it, AND sleep, AND exercise, AND spend time with loved ones, AND find time for diversion. You will find ways to study smarter, not harder. Lots of resources are available, through most medical schools and other means, to help you do this more effectively.

    There is plenty of time to learn everything you need to learn to be a good doctor by the time you are a doctor.

    In medicine, there will always be another article to read, another bit of research to do about a patient’s symptoms, another research project to co-author, another award or activity to add to your CV. Bearing that in mind, we must learn to moderate, and when to how to say “no,” to allow for priorities other than academic or professional ambitions.

    Indeed, no patient will try to “pimp” you. You do not need to be a world expert in your field in order to make a world of difference for your patients. You can find satisfaction in your work and life without giving everything else up. No step score, no clerkship grade, no letter of recommendation, is worth your mental health.

    No one in their dying days says: “I wish I worked more,” or “I wish I had studied harder.”

    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
    Reputation: 30
    USMLE ExpertMD or DOContributor

    This conversation is especially important considering the gap between how common it is to be mentally unwell in medical school and how uncommon it is for this to be a part of the voiced medical school narrative. One thing I would add is that it is always okay to seek and accept help, both from friends and loved ones, and from professional mental health care providers. Many schools provide counseling services, and even those that don’t should be able to connect you to a mental health provider if that is something you think could be helpful.


    Love all of this! I think Mental Health and Wellness should have goals like everything else. It helps keeps you accountable.

    I usually tell students to try and sleep 8.5 hours per day on dedicated (seriously, you have the time even if it doesn’t feel like it). To try and exercise 30 minutes per day (averaged over 7 days) and to always get yourself out of the bubble of medical school.

    Test-taking is like every other sport. Look at this amazing ESPN expose of the workout routines of Chest Champion Magnus Carlsen for proof.

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