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Five SCNM Students Share Tips for Handling Stress

Medical school requires lots of hard work and dedication which will inevitably lead to stress.  Students have to be able to handle the stress that comes their way, both from school and life in general.  We were fortunate enough to hear from some SCNM students on how they manage the stress that comes from the rigors of medical school.

Alice Veirs, a 5th quarter student, advises that even when you might have another hour of studying left on your schedule for the night, if you are sleepy, go to bed!  Get up an hour earlier in the morning and complete your work then—you’ll be refreshed and better able to handle the task.  She also recommends joining a club.  It’s a great way to combine personal and student time, so that you can feel like you’re still being productive as a student, but have a break from rigorous study time.  She concludes, “Remember, there will always be plenty of work to do, so make sure you prioritize so you can reduce your stress level.”

11th quarter student Bridget Vander Woude, be proactive.  Don’t wait for your professors to teach you something, go find out for yourself.  When lots of information comes your way, you’ll feel less pressured because you’ve already gained extra knowledge.  Another tip is to shadow doctors and alumni to gain their insight on your future profession and for advice about how to handle your classes.  Finally, she reminds students to be confident in their learning styles and not to try to copy others’ as this causes unnecessary stress.  Just be you.

George Morales is a 9th quarter student who shared that his ways of reducing stress include being a part of a couple of study groups, and understanding that every student is nontraditional in their own way.  He has had other careers before coming to medical school and balances having a family as well as living an hour away.  During the hour-long drive to and from SCNM, he tries to use meditation and to give himself a chance to separate all that went on during the day so he can focus on his home life for a while before he dives in to more study time.

“Always be curious” is the first piece of wisdom that final quarter student Liz Rickard shares.  She believes that if you look for more about the world around you, you’ll internalize what makes medical school life and life in general more interesting versus stressful.  One of the ways she likes to decompress is to spend time in nature, especially since Arizona has so many diverse climates and eco-systems.  She recently went camping in the mountains and enjoyed hiking, a warm campfire and the changing colors of the leaves around her.  Yes, Arizona has all of that, and even snow in some areas!

Resident Marcus Shamus also chimed in to remind students to figure out their unique study styles and use that to their advantage instead of feeling pressure to be like other students they see.  A solid system of task management, either on the computer or via a calendar on the wall gives a great, complete overview of what’s going on to de-clutter the mind when tons of projects swirl around in your mind.

Corey Shepard, quarter 9, agreed with everyone in the study circle she was in when interviewed: Take the very best care of yourself you can!  Self-care makes so much sense, but can be so hard to make a priority when it seems like you’ll get too far behind if you take time out.  Know that stepping away to do an activity that relaxes you is okay. 

Remember, use every resource you can so that you can take that all-important self-care.  You’re worth it!