The road to becoming a physician has long been pitted with roadblocks like stress, burnout and anxiety, and now, in the 21st century, those stressors can be even more intense, perhaps due to increased complexity of the health care system itself.
In an effort to combat some of those concerns, the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine has recently implemented several programs to address the mental, emotional and physical well-being of its students.
“There is no question that medical school is very stressful,” said Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., dean of the school of medicine. “We have students who are facing challenging schedules, intense academic rigor and competition. As such, it’s imperative that we, as administrators, develop programs to address these issues.”
Amy M. Smith, M.Ed., assistant dean of student affairs at the school of medicine, says plugging students into support systems is a top priority for her office.
“In February, we kicked off our 50 Miles in 50 Days program to promote physical well-being,” Smith said. “Overall, our plans include programs to help students learn coping skills to better manage the stress they encounter on a daily basis.”
Classes in yoga and other exercise offerings are available to students currently, as are mental health services through Cabell Huntington Hospital’s Counseling Center.
“Every single student is offered 10 free sessions during the academic year,” Smith said. “This is an intentional effort to address issues as they are developing and not just reacting to events that occur.”
Smith says one of the most effective methods of staving off stress is the creation of peer support/learning communities at Marshall. Students from every year are sorted into groups based on their interests. They interact on a weekly basis discussing career goals, peer support and clinical interests. Three faculty members are also included in each group.
Photo: Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine medical students prepare for a yoga class at Brown Dog Yoga in February. Students pictured (from left): Alex Gillispie, Lee Mendenhall and Alex Ratnani.