Hi! I’m Dr. Allison Gray. This is our first episode of the Premed Diaries. We created this podcast, along with the other Med Diaries podcast so physicians and physicians in training could have a place to speak their minds, vent, unload, and hear one another in support and solidarity.
The premed journey is not easy and there are many stressors, roadblocks, and frustrations. But there are also incredible joys, like that first time you got to shadow a physician or that first interview offer, or that first acceptance to medical school.
Here at Premed Diaries, we want to help you on this journey to avoid and deal with burnout – an ever growing threat and serious problem for our physician community. And as a premed student, it’s never too early to start.
In each episode, we will hear from a premed student and I’ll share some of my thoughts as well. You may also hear from others who have called and left a response for the caller on a previous episode.
Today, we will hear from a premed student who is dealing with lots of stress and the feeling of needing to be his best in every endeavor and how this is very emotionally draining.
[01:10] Caller #1: Feeling the Stress and Pressure
Our student today transitioned out of the military in 2016. He went to a premed school following his transition, which he considers as an enormous blessing in his life, and one of the most convincing factors for him to pursue medicine.
Right now, he’s been dealing with a lot of stress and pressure. He finds it very difficult to convey to the people in his life that things are high-stakes for him. He is working as a paramedic and since then, things feel high-stakes. He expresses the feelings of pressure to get a 4.0 and do well on the MCAT. Alongside, he’s also starting his own podcast.'It's a lot to deal with at once.' Click To Tweet
He is working in the emergency department so he gets cases that affect him from time to time. So going and bouncing back from school being so high-stakes to showing up to work and feeling like he needs to be perfect for the sake of the patients, he sees this as a very emotionally draining process.'I feel like everything hangs on a really delicate balance, too. When I go to class, there's pressure to do the best, to be the best, and you still have to show up to work the next day and take care of patients.' Click To Tweet
Not to mention, he has to take care of his family and dealing with being a former veteran along with all the stuff that goes with that. He admits dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety on almost a daily basis. He’s trying to manage all these different things at once. He feels like he never takes a break.
Fortunately, listening to The Premed Years Podcast and the OldPreMeds Podcast has been therapeutic for him, which he does on his commute to work and school. He still finds it hard for people in his life to realize this. Although he feels so blessed with the podcast they’re starting and with him doing well in school, but that doesn’t discount the daily grind that can really get at you.
He encourages people out there to segment your time as best as you can and take things one at a time. Just keep going and find a little bit of peace and solitude in what you’re doing. It’s impactful and important to the people who are affected by it. See the bigger picture and things will pan out.'Everything is hanging in such a delicate balance that you feel like you need extra hands and another brain in order to manage it all.' Click To Tweet
Finally, our caller feels great being able to send out this recording since he was able to get all this off his chest. As his way to manage things, he has had a lot of personal growth on time management and dealing with stress, grief, etc. And he hopes all this would help him carry through to medical school and residency, and hopefully become an attending physician. All the skills he learned as a paramedic, in the military, and during training will all be a driving factor.
[08:07] Share Your Thoughts With Us!
If you also want to share your thoughts with us, call 1-833-MYDIARY and you also can do so anonymously. We would love to hear what you have to say!
[08:42] It’s a High-Stakes Game
Our caller has touched on so many great things many premeds are struggling with. First, is the high-stakes game of being a premed student. There so many pressures you’re all dealing with. You could be looking for someone to shadow with or that you’re trying to pay your bills. Or maybe, you’re changing your career and you still have to take care of your family. You may be a college student and you’re also paying your bills. Many of you could probably relate to this high-stakes feeling.'There are so many stressors out there as a premed and it feels really high-stakes because you feel like you can't really do a crappy job at any of it.' Click To Tweet
[09:40] Family and Friends Not Getting It
This is an important thing to recognize and acknowledge. Your family and your friends are your biggest fans and heroes and they’re rooting for you. But the reality is that a lot of times, they really can’t understand what you’re experiencing. This is true as a premed student, and more so as you get into medical school and then eventually becoming a physician.'Your family and your friends are your biggest fans and heroes and they're rooting for you. But the reality is that a lot of times, they really can't understand what you're experiencing.'Click To Tweet
Our caller is already a paramedics so he has experience working with patients and working in a very busy environment. So this already shows him how difficult it is. Seeing patients in life-threatening situations and having to be on is a hard thing to do, regardless of your role in healthcare. This is really tough.
And trying to explain what this is like and articulating it in a way that a family member or a friend can really understand when they don’t live in that world is really hard.
Fast-forward when you’re on the wards. It’s very hard for people not working in health care to understand the pressure you’re under. These hard situations where patients are dying or dealing with incredibly difficult diagnoses.
So try as best as you can to vent and talk to your family and your friends. And if they don’t get it, then they don’t. Good thing you have peers you’re going through things with. And they get it a lot more than others. They may not have the close relationships yet as you do with your family and friends but they do get it.
[11:26] Needing to Be Perfect
We can never be perfect. Physicians and physicians in training, we hold ourselves to this incredible expectations. We think that we really have to be perfect but the reality is that we are human. Being human means that we make mistakes. It’s impossible for us to be 100% all the time. We can really only do the best we can.'The reality is we are humans and being humans means that we do make mistakes.'Click To Tweet
That’s something I have really tried to keep in the back of my mind all these years, that I’m doing the very BEST that I can. And as long as I’m doing that, then I feel ethically and morally grounded. That if it’s not perfect and I make mistakes along the way, at least I’m doing the best I can. So you have to keep this in your mind as well.
[12:50] Use Your Resources and Take a Little Break
Listening to resources like podcasts such as The Premed Years Podcast and the OldPreMeds Podcast is HUGE, especially when you’re feeling that you don’t get a break and that you’re doing so many different things. It’s really important to find anything that gives you a little bit of a break, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Find a TV show you love or sing really loudly in the car. Listen to a podcast that inspires or encourages you. Go to the gym.
It’s hard to make time for that but a little bit of that even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes can get your mind back on task and give you that encouragement you need to keep going when you’re feeling really worn out and spent. So use your resources and lean on other people as you can.
If somebody offers to make you a meal, take them up on it. If somebody offers to watch your kids, take them up on it.'Just find a little bit of time, even for 20 minutes to get a breath of fresh air so that it can feel like you're getting at least a tiny break.'Click To Tweet
[14:17] Take Your Time and Growth Coming from Pain
With all things in general, it’s okay to step back and just focus on one thing at a time. If you have kids, you can’t just focus on premed stuff because they need your help or you need to make them dinner. But this is an idea in general, where if you have so many different things you’re focusing on, in any one minute, try to just focus on one thing. It can help to just step back.
It’s a cliche that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but that’s true. There’s so much growth you will see as a premed and as a med student. Your capacity to just take on will just expand. It has to. Your body and your brain just adopt as you have to take on more and more. So you grow ever more. This concept that as painful as it might be to grow from that and not letting it stop you is huge.
Lastly, encouraging your peers is huge. As what Ryan’s mantra is, “collaboration, not competition.” So encourage your peers no matter what phase you’re at.
[16:10] Get Things Off Your Chest
This is why we’re here. We want to give you the freedom and encouragement to reach out and call so you can get things off your chest. I’m here to support you and offer some thoughts every week. This is a great way for us to all support one another.
[17:00] Respond to Our First Caller
Call 1-833-MYDIARY and let us know you’re calling in response to this. I will play your response on subsequent episodes.
Thank you for joining us on this first episode everyone! As you move through this journey, listen to this podcast along with all out other series. Let’s support one another in fighting this very scary and serious problem we have in this world of burnout.
Call 1-833-MYDIARY and share your thoughts with us!
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