REST: Medical school and residency are stressful

Medical school and residency are stressful and worthy endeavors. As you travel through your journey to becoming a board-certified physician, remember to REST.

  1. Read the medical school or residency handbook. In a book, the preface is the key to unlocking the potential for understanding the author’s intention and approach to the story. Skip the preface; you just might be missing the most important part of the story. Similarly, the handbook is the guide to your academic and professional development. Skip the handbook; you may not know something you need to do or understand.
  2. Embrace the notion that much of what you are learning will be self-taught. There is too much to know about the human body to capture in your classes. Much of your time will be spent outside of class reading, practicing questions, doing flashcards, and watching videos. Similarly, as a resident, some of your time will be spent outside of work preparing for cases, patients, and grand rounds. Further, remember there is more to medicine than the individual patient. There are social systems and structures of medicine. Be part of the system that ensures health equity for all.
  3. Stress management and wellness are central to maintaining your physical, psychological, spiritual, and emotional wellness. You need wellness so you can study and be there for your patients. Make time for a social life with family and friends and a spiritual life. Prepare and share your schedule with your family and friends, so they understand when you can’t be there. Exercise. Make healthy food choices. Sleep.
  4. Time management is necessarily required to be able to study effectively, help your patients, and still have some time for yourself. Develop a daily schedule with strong habits of mind. Without time management, items 1, 2, and 3 are difficult to achieve. Daily, look at your schedule and identify what professional tasks need to be completed, and when you have some time for wellness. Weekly, take time to take stock of what the workflow is for the upcoming week, so you can balance all there is to do. Quarterly, reflect on what is going well and what you need to change to be better for yourself and others. Yearly, remind yourself why you pursued medicine. Re-read your medical school or residency applications. Revel in the heart and soul of what makes an efficacious, ethical, and caring doctor.

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