There is an epidemic of burnout in the medical field. Most medical students face burnout at one point or another. It may even seem inevitable with numerous hours of studies, clinical rotations, lectures, and more. But that is not true!
Preventing burnout is possible if you live a healthy and balanced life. However, you may find it hard to balance work and life when preparing for a licensure exam like the USMLE or NCLEX. Hence, we have compiled 11 tips for you to avoid burnout while preparing for these exams and get a good score on your first attempt. But before talking about the tips, let's briefly define burnout so you know what to look for.
According to the WHO, burnout is caused by chronic workplace stress that is not managed correctly. It is characterized by 3 dimensions.
Now let's talk about how to prevent burnout.
Before you start, knowing what you are working for is crucial. Though everyone wants to pass the licensure tests, not everyone has the same goals. Perhaps your goal is to get a passing grade, or maybe you want to top the exam, or perhaps you just want to get the score you need to get into your preferred residency program. Defining your goals will help you plan better and prevent you from over-exerting yourself and burning out.
Even if we deny it, our brains are not machines that can always run on peak performance. Instead, it needs breaks to recharge and rest. In addition to refreshing your brain, taking breaks allows you to continuously re-evaluate your progress and recalibrate your study plan. Breaks will also enable you to incorporate other healthy coping strategies, like meditation, walking, and exercise, to help you manage daily stress.
Taking days off can help you improve your resilience and endurance. If you do not take days off, your brain function starts to suffer, making it very difficult to retain critical information.
To make the most of these day-offs, you must develop the mental discipline to avoid worry and guilt. You should remove all possible ties to studying, like books and laptops, from your environment or schedule a time away from your regular study place.
Most of the time, studying is a one-person game that can make you feel lonely. However, you can overcome loneliness by having friends and family to support you. Making a habit of calling or talking to your close ones daily, whether things are going well or not, will reduce your chances of feeling lonely and offer you support and help during this intense studying period.
Be sure you have someone to take care of you if you wake up in the middle of a nightmare of forgetting a crucial biochemical pathway while solving the exam
Exercise is a great way to release stress and refresh your brain. When you already have a basic exercise routine, an intense workout to release negative emotions and relieve stress may work for you.
However, if you don't have a habit of exercising daily, exercising excessively during this intensive study period can cause stress. Hence if you don't have a habit of exercising, you should add smaller exercise sessions to your schedule with less daunting activities, like going on a walk.
When exams are near, many students forget to have fun. As important as it is to focus on your studies, it is equally important to pay attention to other aspects of your life.
When creating your study plan for your exam, be sure to include time to hang out with friends, do fun activities, or maybe just watch a good movie. As a result, you'll be able to recharge your body and mind and prevent burnout.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Despite the fact that asking for help can be difficult, it's never wrong. If you are struggling with a topic, asking your friends or professor for help can make understanding it simpler. In addition, seeking help when you need it can prevent unnecessary stress and burnout.
Exams come and go, but your health remains with you forever. Some students tend to lose or gain weight when preparing for their USMLE or NCLEX. Either they forget to eat, or they snack too much, both of which are unhealthy. You should have healthy meals 3 times daily to keep your body and mind focused and stress-free.
The same goes for sleep. You also need to have a healthy amount of sleep daily. Sleep has a direct association with your focus, memory, and cognition. Staying up late to study rather than getting enough sleep throughout the study period can negatively affect your performance.
Studying can be pretty lonely at times. In contrast, everything is fun with friends! When you study with friends, you get companionship and have someone to discuss what you're learning or, if required, ask for help.
Studying with others also creates a sense of accountability. In addition, it keeps you motivated to study for long stretches without feeling exhausted or burnt out.
Though having a dedicated study space is excellent, sitting in the same place for 8 hours a day can become boring! You can change the environment and ambiance to keep yourself motivated when you have multiple good places to study. Just ensure these study places do not have any distractions that might interfere with your study session.
The period of studying before giving the USMLE or the NCLEX is intense! You must learn a lot of information and apply it by solving numerous question banks and practice tests. Regardless of how smart you are, it is not an easy task. The key is to not blame yourself for feeling exhausted at times and to accept it as part of the process.
You can also prepare coping mechanisms for exhaustion to help you get back to your peak performance in no time.
Now that you know how to avoid getting burnt out. You are ready to put in the needed hours and prepare for the exam to the best of your capacity. BEST OF LUCK WITH YOUR EXAMS!