Yacin Zawam of Northwest Arkansas is a recent medical school graduate from the University of Toledo. Amidst the academic pressure, it’s easy for aspiring doctors to neglect their physical and mental health among the rigorous workload med school requires. However, for a student doctor, neglecting personal health can lead to burnout, decreased academic performance, and even compromised patient care. In this article, Yacin Zawam explores the critical importance of prioritizing physical and mental health in medical school, as well as some practical tips on how medical students can maintain their well-being while pursuing their passion for medicine.
The importance of both physical and mental health in everyday life is undeniable, but it takes on even more value during busy and stressful times.
Maintaining personal health is imperative for medical school students for two main reasons: academic success and overall success. Better health during medical school can lead to an improved ability to meet the demands of the program and reduces dropout rates. It can also decrease burnout, prevent damaging behaviors such as dependence on stimulants, and promotes positive outcomes long-term.
Below, Yacin Zawam of Northwest Arkansas dives into more detail about the importance of maintaining both physical and mental health during the demands of medical school.
The Importance of Staying Healthy in Med School
Although students entering med school must understand that just as poor health can result in significant consequences for the general population, it is especially harmful to students studying medicine.
Yacin Zawam of Northwest Arkansas explains that the benefits of preserving and/or improving physical and mental health include improved academic success and promoting long-term health and wellness to not just themselves but their patients as well.
Improved Academic Success
Medical school is a grueling endeavor, and students work incredibly hard to achieve success and meet high levels of academic standards. Unfortunately, mental and physical health struggles can negatively affect a student’s ability to perform their academic role to satisfaction.
Maintaining physical health throughout the four years of medical school will help students find it easier to attend all their classes, manage their stress, and learn the material more thoroughly. It will also ensure that students can keep up with each course and perform well on quizzes, tests, and practical exams.
Not only is this beneficial in the immediate present, but Yacin Zawam of Northwest Arkansas explains that it will have a positive effect on a student’s experience during the rest of the program as well.
Reduced Dropout Rates
Physical health is inextricably linked to mental well-being and vice versa. When one or both aspects of health have fallen below the ideal threshold, they will likely continue to feed into each other. For example, a lack of exercise due to over-studying may result in depression, which will in turn lessen motivation to get active.
This negative loop between mental and physical health will sometimes culminate in the decision to drop out of school, as they feel they cannot manage the responsibilities. Yacin Zawam of Northwest Arkansas says that students with a healthy mind and body will be able to deal with the demands of school and successfully complete their education: this is a benefit to their individual well-being and the integrity of the health sector.
Student burnout is a result of exhaustion, both physically and mentally. It is almost always related to an overwhelming workload and is commonly paired with conflicts between personal performance and ideals or expectations.
To limit burnout, Yacin Zawam of Northwest Arkansas suggests that students need to maintain their overall wellbeing. Regular exercise can provide excellent stress-relief, and emotional stability will make it easier for students to manage their vigorous workloads. Great health is also conducive to a great social life and work-life balance, further reducing the risk of exhaustion.
Prevents Damaging Behaviors
Yacin Zawam of Northwest Arkansas says that harmful behaviors such as drug and alcohol use and social isolation are common consequences of mental health struggles during demanding periods of life – med school is no exception. However, these practices can exacerbate emotional distress and cause new physical symptoms to appear.
When students value their health as much as their academic success during their education, they are less likely to resort to these damaging coping strategies.
Promotes Long-Term Health
Medical school students that struggle to maintain their physical and mental health during their four-year program can take as long as five years to recover after graduating.
Yacin Zawam of Northwest Arkansas says that developing skills for managing deadlines and a heavy workload, finding ways to de-stress in a healthy manner, staying active, and balancing work and a social life are all things that students can do to maintain their mental and physical well-being during their healthcare education. When students accomplish these things and prevent a health decline, they won’t have to fight their way back to optimal health after graduation and they will be even more prepared for life after school.
The four years spent in medical school are some of the most stressful and demanding years an individual will ever experience. Maintaining high health standards in terms of physical and mental wellness is the only way to ensure academic success and long-term well-being on an individual level.