Med School Diaries: Block 4 and Burnout

Having successfully made it through block three, this time without crying or feeling like giving up, a major improvement from last time. Whilst I was successful in making it through the block I have definitely started to feel the pressure creeping back in. The medical school made some changes to block three, cutting down the drugs list (many of which were never really spoken about previously) and reducing the amount of guided learning content. It has really helped the content of the block become digestible and I really feel that this time around I have been learning information and not just writing things down to come back to later. I have understood more, now I am starting to feel more confident in myself and my abilities. The pressure comes from knowing how close the exams are now, and how much I have riding on them; this time more than ever.

Now I am over halfway through block four, again it been a different experience second time around. I’ve been enjoying the anatomy of block four more this time and have embraced my below average drawing skills in an attempt to master the block four anatomy this time around. Previously i ignored the anatomy for as long as possible and it really impacted my learning so I have been trying to really focus on this for the first few weeks.

Having a consolidation week between block 3 and 4 has really been useful this time around. It gave me the opportunity to finish all the work I have been doing for block three and try to consolidate my learning. But it also gave me the chance to recognise and recover from the burnout I was experiencing. Things were slowly getting the best of me, people asking and expecting things, but I was always expecting so much of myself too. I was going to work, trying to do too much revision and also trying to do all the adulting related jobs (and working 15+ hours). It left me slightly broken mentally and emotionally; by Wednesday I couldn’t do anything because I was so tired. Ironically I kept pushing myself, and it wasn’t until a friend said I think this is burnout that it really flicked the light on in my head.

I was experiencing burnout, a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. I was overwhelmed, drained and unable to meet the demands placed on me by myself and others. Ultimately I was preventing myself from reaching my full potential.

Realising this gave me the chance to take a few days to recover, I was fortunate that this happened during consolidation week and I was able to give myself some time. I spent a whole day on my sofa, watching some Netflix and reading. Then gave myself a day to complete all the adulting tasks I needed to do, cleaning my flat and my desk space. This all just released some space in my brain bandwidth, giving me the ability to think about medical school and slowly getting to grips with getting back the medicine grind.

I think I was fortunate that this happened when it did. Which I know sounds stupid, but I had the chance to recover, take stock and get myself prepared to really put my head down and get into the hardest part of the phase 1 year, learning and active revision simultaneously.

Three weeks into block four I can finally say I am up to date with all the lectures so far and have a good revision plan in place, so I hope to be more successful this time around. Everyday is a new day, and i just need to focus on getting through life day by day. Things are looking up, now its just time to achieve this final goal.

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