by Yasmin Bains COM 2020
“Burnout” has unfortunately become a popular buzzword within the medical community. I didn’t realize how real this problem was until I encountered it myself before starting medical school. When I decided to change careers and pursue medicine, I felt assured that years of working in a high stress environment with various start-ups had prepared me adequately to deal with the challenges that lay ahead.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
At the tail end of my rigorous post-bac program, I experienced some of the classic signs of burnout: I was constantly tired, dissatisfied, disengaged and had started isolating myself from my close friends and family. I decided to hold off on my medical school application and took a year off to connect with myself again and evaluate my priorities. During that time, I spent a month traveling abroad and for the remainder of the year working with patients in a primary care setting. I realized medicine is where I belonged and I had almost turned my back to it because I was burnt out. At that point, I recognized that I had to take a more balanced approach going forward.
I became involved with WARM (Wellness, Academics, Resilience and Mindfulness) during my first semester at TUCOM. The WARM project is implemented through both curricular and experiential activities geared towards enhancing student wellbeing. For example, COM1s just had their kick-off WARM event of the semester which included 2 breakout sessions; the first comprised hands-on-demonstrations of fun electives offered to students. The second included the option of either a guided mindfulness session with Dr. Drew Scott or, a game of ultimate Frisbee led by our classmates. The goal was to demonstrate different ways students can get involved on campus outside of the academic setting. For me, the scheduled WARM hours in our curriculum over the course of the semester help facilitate the balanced approach to my medical school experience.
Many schools now recognize the importance of promoting wellness to help students cope with stress, keeping them more engaged and providing support through each year of medical school. Our campus is taking a similar approach through WARM. The project’s innovative curriculum is designed to engage both students as well as faculty in order to address the complexity of medical school burnout. Through WARM, I have learned new strategies in coping with challenges as a first year. More importantly, I recognize that while I am accountable for my own success, a supportive environment helps reduce some of the barriers we face as medical students (and as future interns, residents and physicians). We are very fortunate to have this type of support through WARM.
For more information, visit www.tuwarm.com or feel free to reach out to me or one of our student representatives if you have any questions.