Brace yourselves. I’m about to say something controversial. Medicine isn’t stressful. I know this for a fact. Actually nothing is stressful. Erase stressful from your vocabulary.
“But you’re an anxious medic?” “Yes I am”
“And you’re often stressed?” “Yes I am”
“Because medicine is stressful?” “NO”
I can understand that this sounds a bit ridiculous at first glance. However, I want to argue that there is simple proof that makes what I am saying correct. Do you know of a medical student who appears completely relaxed about the course and stresses very little or at all? Of course you do, we all do. Oh how we despise these people! Surely they don’t care. They can’t. If they cared about their future they’d worry about failure. If they cared about medicine they would worry about making the wrong decision. Yep, either they don’t care about the course or they don’t care about people. In fact, maybe they’re just completely arrogant. Actually, yeah, that’s it, they’re big headed. Thank goodness I’m not like them… I’d prefer to be stressed and care than to be calm and cruel…..! However, the very fact that there are medics who barely seem to worry proves that it is not medicine itself that is stressful. I would actually go as far as to say that this pattern is seen in every degree and in any career. Some seem to float effortlessly through life while others flounder, even if these individuals are exposed to the same challenges.
“But, anxious_medic, look at the statistics!”
It is true, stress levels in medical students have been found to be on average higher than in other people. The key word is potential. Medicine has the potential to be stress provoking. And my God, potentially, medicine is an extremely stress provoking place! There are stressors flying at you from every angle. If stressors were water we’d be in full scuba gear in most clinical situations…
“Well thanks anxious_medic, now I can’t even blame the course. It really is my fault. I’m doomed.”
No. This is fantastic news! Being able to accept that we are completely responsible for our own anxieties is the most important step in overcoming them! Imagine this: if we have total responsibility for our own anxiety, we have the ability to be in complete control of it. We don’t have to worry about what happens in the hospital, or anywhere else for that matter, because we can handle it! So yes, I am an anxious medic. I know I am yet to overcome my own anxieties. However, I fully accept that the problem lies within myself, and it is only by addressing this, that I will be able to face the unpredictability of medicine with confidence and resilience.
Accept and own your anxieties but relentlessly reject any thoughts that there is nothing that can be done about it!