Dr. C: How can you know the difference between depression and burnout in residency?
JB: By how you act when you’re on vacation.
I am a senior in high school and I want to become a doctor, but medical school seems… Tiresome and depressing. I feel like once I get there I’ll be so isolated and alone that I will give up. How does one handle that? It just seems so daunting to me. But medicine is my passion and I don’t want to give it up! -scienceofthes0ul
Well friend, you have judged medical school correctly…sort of. It absolutely can be tiresome and depressing, and it is at times (and residency moreso). But the cool thing is that when you’re tired and depressed, most of your friends are probably feeling the same thing.
That doesn’t sound very comforting, but it kind of is. You will be surrounded by people who are just as miserable as you are, and they can empathize with you and you can use each other to get through. It’s funny, I spent less time with my friends in med school than I did with friends in undergrad, but I was much closer to my med school friends, and I think it’s because of this miserable dynamic.
Take my best good friend, for example. We somehow managed to get every 3rd year rotation together, which was a godsend. She kept me sane, for real. And during our 4th year when we parted ways for much of the year, we still called each other almost daily to share crazy patient stories, catch up, and commiserate.
But just in case you’re not lucky enough to find a best good friend in med school, here are some tips to avoid isolation, depression, and burnout.
I hope everyone matches where they were hoping for. Just remember, go into today with
Hopefully today will be the
and won’t end up like this
And gunners, when people ask you where you matched, don’t be all lame like
And don’t brag either.
And for everyone else, hold on to your hats, because
In a few months I’ll be choosing a specialty to start my residency and I have doubts between choosing Psychiatry or Family Practice; I like both. Any advice? -entropycomeseasy
When I first started med school, my dean told me “if you like a little bit of everything and you don’t hate psych, you should be a family doctor.” She’s totally right. We see tons of psychiatry in family medicine. And I really enjoy the FM-type psych stuff. I like treating depression and anxiety and cognitive disorders. I am not a big fan of treating acute psychotic breaks and such. Which is why I’m a family doctor and not a psychiatrist.
But if you like it all, why not do both? There are combined Family Medicine-Psych residencies out there. They’re rare, but they do exist. I think in the next few years there may be an expansion in primary care-psych programs, especially considering the shortages of each these days. There was an article about these programs on KevinMD recently.
If you want to choose one or the other, consider the following:
Attending: He needs to have a big bowel movement and then he can go home.
Resident: If I have one, can I go home?
Hi, what makes students who get into top medical schools different from other candidates? I can’t seem to find any student profiles on the web. Thanks <3
Let me start with sort of an obvious statement: Students who apply to (and go to) top medical schools want to be in a top medical school. Think about this: there are TONS of super smart people out there who specifically chose NOT to go to a top school. They make this choice for a myriad of reasons, including geographic preference, cost, family obligations, specialty interests, and research preferences (or lack thereof…some schools require research, others do not). So a degree from somewhere other than Pitt or Hopkins doesn’t mean they aren’t brilliant.
But students who go to top schools often go to those schools for the prestige of it all. They know that school will look good on residency and fellowship applications, and they know they will have a solid education there. But remember, one does not have to go to a top school to get a top education. What you learn is mostly up to you.
Also, know what a “top medical school” is for YOU. Just because it’s the best doesn’t mean it’s the best for you. For example, I could have applied to the top school in my state, which is ranked in the top 25 for research and top 20 US medical schools overall. However, their rankings in primary care education are much lower, and considering my interests, it wouldn’t have been the best place for me to go.
Back to the question. I’m guessing it really was more about how to get into a top school, so let’s go there. If you wanna go to a commonly recognized top school, you need:
Attending: Did you go home last night and learn Spanish so you can communicate with your patient?
Intern: No sir.
Attending: Lazy intern…
Hey fourth years, how great has fourth year been for you? Amazing right? I told you it would be. Like all good things, fourth year must come to an end, and the beginning of that end is, of course, RANK LISTS. Rank lists are due February 20 (and if you didn’t already know this, you need to step up your game yo), and I’m sure you guys are all freaking out about them a little bit.
A close friend of mine e-mailed me recently about her rank list decision making, and she said,
I have been expecting to have a “big moment” of sorts where the lights come down from heaven and God says “this is where you are supposed to go.”
We all hope for that feeling. That moment when it’s all clear.
So far, that hasn’t happened for her, and I imagine it hasn’t happened for many of you. I had my own little rank list crisis last year (btw, I matched my first ranked program, but I won’t tell which of those two it was), so I totally understand the frustration and the worries and fears associated with making this list that will determine the course of your next 3-7 years.
So here’s a little advice to consider in your decision making:
I’m pretty sure it shows grades (honors, pass/fail) for each rotation (3rd and 4th year) and overall grades for each subject, not individual test grades. It’s like a college transcript. Just shows the grade for the overall class. My school was pass/fail but also gave numeric grades for ranking and transcript purposes. But for us all that mattered was 65, stay alive.
Do you know any females who have gone through med school or residency while pregnant? I’ve read your posts on relationships and marriage while training to become a doctor, but given the limited window of peak fertility, it’s naturally something that concerns me as a single woman hoping to enter the medical profession. Pregnancy doesn’t seem like an easy undertaking with the stress and time demands, but I was just wondering if anyone in your experience has successfully done it. Thanks! - efxaristo
Absolutely, I know quite a few ladies who have had babies during medical school. A great one to ask more specific questions to would be descantforhope, who had her first baby a few months ago.
In my class there was only 1 girl who had a baby during med school, and she had hers toward the end of our third year.I remember looking at her being 8 months pregnant, holding a retractor in the OR for hours and thinking “she is hardcore”. I would have been all over the one stool in the OR being like “my feets hurt”. People would offer to let her sit out on things, but for the most part, she did everything everyone else did (plus manage to find time to pee 12 times a day). She actually refused when an attending told her to go home one morning because she looked sick. She was like “I’ll be fine once I throw up. Just give me a few minutes.”
any suggestions, advice, commentary for a first year med student who struggled/failed-to-adapt-quickly enough and made several C’s and is scared for the future! (in addition: want to do family med and try to do other things outside of school to spice up resume, was straight A till med school, etc.) - anon
I’ve written a whole bunch about what to do after getting bad grades. The big thing to do is figure out your weak points, or figure out what modes of studying you were using that weren’t working, and try your best to correct them. Get outside help from a tutor, study group, an advisor, or even an upperclassman who can advise you.
As for spicing up an application for family medicine: FM residencies love seeing commitment to community, so all community service looks great, especially projects involving public health or health education. Free clinics are excellent places to do some volunteering and spice up your CV. They often have patient education workshops, local research opportunities, and of course they serve underserved populations. Check the NAFC website to see if there are any near you. Also check the Society of Student Run Free Clinics website to learn how to start one in your community. Other good opportunities for community service include tutoring science or math at local schools or doing a big brother/big sister type program.