A Student’s Take on Building a Support System for Wellness

Anna Cherian, a rising fourth-year student in the College of Medicine, contributed the following article. It is one of the educational initiatives sponsored by the NEOMED’s Student Wellness Committee as part of its peer-support series on eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual. The concept of eight dimensions of wellness comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a U.S. government agency.

As I reflect on the end of my third year in the College of Medicine, I realize one of the most important parts of maintaining my wellness was identifying a support system in my first year and leaning on it throughout this journey. The third year has been very exciting, yet also overwhelming and isolating, as I wasn’t in classes every day with my peers anymore and I was in a new environment with a very steep learning curve. For me, a large part of overcoming emotions of anxiety and fear came from connecting with people in my cohort who I thought might be feeling similar and talking with them about our issues. It also helped to gather perspective from loved ones who aren’t in the medical field but had valuable insights, nonetheless. 

I feel fortunate that I was able to build part of my support system prior to starting at NEOMED, through the first two years of the NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health. These friendships have been crucial to my emotional, physical and academic well-being throughout these few years. We have encouraged each other through exams, celebrated accomplishments and engagements, and comforted each other through hardships, heartbreak and even a global pandemic! Others in my support system include family, friends from home, and mentors from various stages of my education. Everyone’s support network looks different, but these are the people I talk to when I am having my best and worst days. They are the ones who have gotten me through this far. 

The grind from school and rotations can really take a toll. I find sometimes we as health professional students do not take the time to speak about our struggles and address them head on. But burnout is prevalent and we are not alone! There are other people going through this as well. Having a space to create an open dialogue can be an essential aspect of maximizing your personal well-being. 

As a rising fourth-year medicine student, I can confidently say that anyone in my class would be open to being part of a support system for someone who is struggling to build one. We are here to empower each other through a unique journey with many highs but also lows that at times can feel lonely. I will always be grateful to NEOMED for the opportunity to pursue a passion into a career. Many people leave NEOMED with husbands, wives, or a master’s degree in addition to their M.D. I will be leaving with a few more sisters (special shout-out to Aviva Aguilar, Anibelky Almanzar and Harini Prabhakaran), which is priceless! 

Photo L to R: Rising fourth-year students Aviva Aguilar, Anibelki Almanzar and Anna Cherian

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