How to Overcome Medical School Burnout

by Alex Dang.
Medical school is not for everyone: not only is it a long journey, but it also requires a lot of commitment to studying and staying on top of things in order to excel. A path towards a career in medicine is full of multiple obstacles and hoops to overcome. Inevitably, these obstacles induce stress that not every student can handle. Therefore, it is essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of medical school burnout and seek help immediately.



Exhaustion is the first sign of burnout. With hours of lecture per day, it becomes easy to fall behind. Regardless of the intense study schedule, it is vital to take a small break, grab a snack to refuel or listen to your favorite song to destress and regroup. It is also essential to balance your studying schedule and allow ample time to sleep. Tiredness and sleep deprivation can escalate quickly, ultimately affecting the quality of life and the ability to retain information.


Feel Incompetent

Another sign that a student may be facing burnout is when they start to feel hopeless or incompetent. Feeling less than your peers or feeling like you are not smart enough to handle current responsibilities can be detrimental to one’s mental health. Exams and quizzes serve the purpose of assessing a student’s performance in school. However, students should focus on their individual performance and in my opinion, refrain from sharing grades with peers. Furthermore, a student should not ascribe to the ideology that poor performance on assessments is the defining characteristic of a “bad doctor”, as many factors, aside from solely grades, come into play in coming to that conclusion.

…others are also going through the same thing.

Many students that are experiencing burnout do not realize they are not alone and that others are also going through the same thing. It is easy to isolate yourself into a dark hole, especially when everyone around you seems to be living their best life. It is important not to alienate yourself, but rather to seek help from peers or faculty as soon as possible when you feel yourself struggling.


Find a Hobby

It is crucial to find a hobby to participate in during your free time or continue to do what you love while in medical school. According to Christopher Perez, MD, “medical school isn’t a race; it’s a marathon.” It is necessary to take one step at a time and find the right balance between personal life and school.

In the end, everyone that graduates from medical school will have the same credentials but it is up to you to recognize the symptoms of burnout, work to address them, and stay mentally healthy to ensure that you are maximizing your potential in this challenging yet rewarding journey towards becoming a successful medical practitioner.

by Alex Dang, class of 2023

School: Western University College of Podiatric Medicine


How to Overcome Medical School Burnout

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