5 stresses that med students will know to be true (and how to fight them!)

Money & Coping

5. Financial

Medical school can be up to six years (if you intercalate.) The last few years may be funded by a wholly inadequate NHS bursary. You will be asked to spend money on commuting to distant hospitals, dusty books and professional clothing. By the end of medical school, you will be poor. We all are. Your earning potential is great and repayments are fair.

Simple things such as making a financial plan, bulk buying food, cooking at home and asking for travel allowances can help save the pennies. Buy cheap work clothes, they end up ruined and covered in various fluids ... My personal life saver was buying a coffee flask, saving me up to £6 a day. Buy textbooks secondhand and use the library. My very expensive copy of ‘Medical Biochemistry’ was never needed. And remember, socialising is expensive, so put aside money for it.

6. Coping mechanisms

Simple mechanisms can make all the difference. ‘Active’ coping strategies are more effective than avoidant; so ask questions and attack problems. By minimising the importance of medicine in your life you can also minimise its stress. Try to get involved in sports, non-academic societies, creativity and music. Make sure to get good sleep and eat enough.

The evidence shows that by keeping a varied life rich in your passions you will stave off stress. Developing a good life now will carry into your professional career.

Seeking help when you need it is paramount. Medics are terrible patients. So look out for each other and if you are worried, talk. See your doctor. Depression and anxiety are not normal; they are reactions to stress. You can get help. Mindfulness, CBT, meditation and medications can all help.

And my personal and most important advice: accept that you can be wrong, useless and upset. You are human, not a machine.

Dr Ben Janaway MBChB // @drjanaway

Any opinions above are the author's alone. Guidance is based on the best available evidence at the time of writing. All data are based on externally validated studies unless expressed otherwise. Novel data are representative of sample surveyed. Online recommendation is no substitute for seeing your own doctor and should not be taken as medical advice.

Dr Ben Janaway is a medical doctor and Editor for the online healthcare and education source ‘Mind and Medicine’ . He writes regularly for patient.info and other national news sources. Contact Dr Janaway at www.twitter.com/drjanaway with stories or for discussion.


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