Maintaining Emotional Wellness During Step 1 Prep

Members of the Student Wellness Committee want to encourage other students to pursue wellness, both for themselves and as role models for future patients.

Students have been writing about different aspects of the eight dimensions of wellness, as defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Here’s the third article, from third-year College of Medicine student Volha Mazziotto. Watch The Pulse for upcoming posts!

Studying for the Step 1 exam can be an overwhelming process. It is a high-stakes test that reflects and summarizes your performance from the first two years of medical school. It may feel as if just one test will determine your future career and specialty choice. It is not uncommon for students to feel anxious. From reflecting on my own journey through the first two years of medical school and studying for Step 1, here are a few tips that I would give to M1 and M2 students to maintain their emotional wellness and physical health.

Take one day at a time.

Studying medicine is a marathon, not a sprint. It may be discouraging when you first see how much information you need to learn. You may wonder how you can possibly do it all. It may also seem that no matter how much you study, it is never enough. But if you approach one exam at a time, one semester at a time, and you do your best, you will be surprised by how much you actually will learn. Each class and each exam will help you build a strong foundation that will serve you well during Step 1.

Be kind to yourself.

Medical school may feel like a high-pressure environment. Knowing how you deal with stress and what helps you relieve stress is important. For some students, it may be spending time with family and friends, going to the gym or seeing a counselor. Find out early what works for you and stick with it. Wellness and emotional health can be achieved by planning and incorporating it into your routine. Don’t compromise your sleep by trying to get done more studying; sleep is very important for memory consolidation. Rather than studying for hours on end, try to be more efficient with the time you have. If you are a morning person, schedule your studying in the morning when you can. Also, have a positive self-talk, even when some days or some exams are not perfect. Always be on your own side to avoid undue pressure.

Enjoy the journey.

No doubt, it is stressful to be a medical student. There may be many days when you just want to be done with an assignment or the next exam, or when you can't wait to finish a semester or Step 1. Try not to rush through life, however. Time is precious, and you won’t get it back.  When you experience thoughts like that, slow down and reflect for a moment. Think about how privileged you are to be in medicine and learn all the amazing things about the human body. Don't just focus on the final destination and becoming an M.D. Physicians are still required to continue learning even when they are in practice. Enjoy the process!

Finally, if you become too overwhelmed or discouraged, don’t feel like you have to deal with your feelings alone. Please reach out to your friends and peer advisors or schedule an appointment with a counselor (see information below).

Many successful students were in your shoes before and made it through. You can do it, too!

NEOMED’s Center for Student Wellness and Counseling Services

If you are a student and have any questions, feel free to email or call 330.325.6757.

If you are a student and would like to speak with a counselor, call 330.325.6757. If you are calling after business hours, follow the prompts to leave a message, including your full name and phone number.

If you are unable to reach a counselor and need immediate, urgent mental health care, please contact Coleman Professional Services at 330.296.3555, AxessPointe at 330.673.1016, National Suicide Hotline at 800.273.8255 or the crisis text line at 741-741.

If you are experiencing a medical, life-threatening emergency, call 911.

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