5 Tips To Help Reduce Med School Burnout

Pre-clinical knowledge to clinical knowledge and application. One might think that it’s as simple as applying all the knowledge one gains from studying the basic medical sciences. I wish it were. One of my second year colleagues (along with many others, of course) is making the transition into her clinical years of medical school and asked for a few tips.

I’ve always considered the key to surviving medical school was one thing: balance. If only it was so easy to achieve. Time becomes a precious thing. The funny thing about clinical medicine is that it has this uncanny ability to suck up your life if you aren’t careful…even more so than pre-clinical medicine. Here are 5 tips to (hopefully) help make the most of your time while maintaining some balance in life.

1. Personal Time

Nothing could be more important than making time for yourself! Take a little time out of a hectic week to do something good for yourself. A little something to push aside the rest of the world for a bit while you make sure you don’t lose yourself in all the work.

2. Sleep

Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! I swear, this is something that people find to be the most difficult…and I’m not sure why. I love to sleep. I function best on 10 hours of sleep but I’ve had to cut down to 6-8 hours. Still, I’m awed by people who push themselves to study so much and only get about 4 hours of sleep a night. I often hear complaints of being tired quite often. We all know the truth: when you feel tired, you’re brain doesn’t function on full capacity. And of course, a proper diet and some exercise always helps a brain work better.

3. Free time: enjoy it!

This one’s similar to #1 but it’s a little different. Personal time comes every once in awhile. Free time can come pretty often. Don’t feel guilty if you head out for a fun time with some friends (or sit around the house watching anime and asian dramas, like me). Of course, study! But you can’t spend all your time studying. Just be sure not to over do it on the fun. The balance between study and fun is crucial.

4. Be proactive

There are often times during clerkships when you feel like you’re just hanging around wasting time…waiting around…not doing much. Try to make the most of that time…be proactive. If you’re waiting for ward rounds to begin, read a little while you wait. While you may have completed the basic medical science theory, there are new basics to be learnt in clinical medicine…skills to achieve! Clinical learning is a little different from the previous years of sitting down in a lecture hall to be taught.

5. Be respectful

The clinical environment is new and exciting! Let’s remember, you’re the medical student. The most junior and least important member of the team. But you’re still a member of the team and doctors will make time to teach so always be grateful for it! Their time is no less precious than yours. Some things to remember:

  • Don’t be tardy (unless there’s a really good excuse).
  • Manners are not an old fashioned thing of the 20th century.
  • People have their own…quirks. Learn them well so you remain on their good side! 😉

Bonus tip: look out for one another! There’s no perfect student and selling out your fellow student doesn’t make you look any better as an individual. It merely shows lack of communication and teamwork. Look around you in the hospital…everyone works together as a team!

At the end of the day, you’ll learn what works best for you. Trial-and-error, I suppose. It’s all a matter of trying not to burn out before the end is in sight.

Good luck!


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