Limiting the creep of anxiety

As the excitement of the new academic year winds down and everyone settles into a routine, this is typically a time when students experience split feelings.

On the one hand, there is a sense of calm as many have adjusted to their 'new normal' in their respective years of training. On the other hand, the hurdle of new challenges loom.  

Incoming students will feel a big sense of relief after they complete their first set of final exams– until then the fear of the unknown may still sneak up from time to time.   

Second-year students faced their first TOSCE on November 17, and fourth-year learners prepare to come back to campus amongst a flurry of CaRMS deadlines, including the anxiety provoking 'interview tour'. In the midst of intense clinical training, our new Clerks face the challenge of proactively and strategically selecting electives.   

At this time of year, it’s not uncommon for anxieties to creep in.  

Many students have honed coping techniques that have helped them through times of stress – be it exercise, spending time with family and friends or engaging in group activities. Managing an ever-growing list of demands on your to-do list can become overwhelming, so be sure to make time for the things you love. Doing so will relieve stress in a healthy way, allow you to return to your obligations with more clarity and help you to balance your time effectively and efficiently.

If you are unsure if you should be taking your stress or anxiety level a little more seriously, remember, anxiety is a natural reaction to something we fear (ie. a big exam, a new experience, an overwhelming schedule). Anxiety serves its purpose in motivating us to take action.  

If, however, the feeling doesn’t leave when the stimulus goes away, you may be experiencing general anxiety.

The demands and stresses of medical training can create anxiety in any learner at any time during training – and for some, it will be their first experience with these feelings. Please reach out to the Learner Equity & Wellness (LEW) Office. We have a lot of resources that can help you. Career advising, mental health counselling, academic advising, study tips, wellness guidance – and more. All LEW discussions are confidential. Learning coping techniques early on can help you throughout your medical training and into your career.

Since being proactive and managing obligations is one way of reducing stress, the LEW office has suggested an action item for each cohort to think about as they enter the New Year in January 2017.

Medicine Class of 2020

Filter through the noise: You will hear different perspectives on how to spend the summer and it will be here before you know it. Take the time, now, to research the opportunities that are available in the summer and how you will choose some CV-worthy experience – be it research, leadership, summer or global electives. Certainly choose some time for travel and fun, but remember all programs are becoming more competitive.

Medicine Class of 2019

Narrow down your career choices: now is a good time to do some strong soul searching and actively engage in things that will help you narrow down your career desires, whether it be research, meetings with faculty, observerships or LEW career appointments. Almost immediately into Clerkship you will be faced with preparing for elective selections – this is a much less stressful process when you know what speciality you are interested in.

Medicine Class of 2018

Finalize your electives strategy: At this time, you should have a strong game plan of the electives you would like to obtain that align with your career goals. You should also have back-up plans – holding out for one specific elective for each block can be very dangerous. Remember to reach out to LEW for any career advising needs specific to electives selection/strategy.

Medicine Class of 2017

Practise your interview skills: At the end of Clerkship you engaged in a mini interview workshop. Use those questions and practise, practise, practise. Have a friend take a video of your responses and critique how you did. Be sure to sign up for a mock interview when the schedule is circulated upon your return to campus.

Wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable upcoming holiday season.

Stephanie Coccimiglio
Learner Equity & Wellness Coordinator – Windsor Campus