web analytics

5 Serious Concerns You Need to Know About as a Medical Student

If you’re in the process of becoming a physician: Congratulations! You’re on your way to making our world a better place. Being a doctor is an admirable career and keeping your patients happy, healthy, and safe is going to be one of your biggest priorities. But don’t forget about your needs and your safety as you enter residency and beyond.

Many doctors know exactly what is ailing their patients but struggle with the day-to-day of their career in regards to their personal health and safety. If you’re learning to care for others, make sure you know how to properly deal with the stresses of physician-hood and the common risks at the hospital.

As you prepare to do no harm, make sure you are aware of the risks and difficulties doctors face, and prepare yourself properly.

1. Irregular Hours and Long Shifts

As a medical student, studying to become a certified doctor, long hours are no stranger to you. But as you shift into your residency and eventually your own practice or a permanent position at a hospital, you will have to endure decades of long shifts, being on-call throughout the night and holidays, and the uncertainty of sleep.

The reason there is a limit on the 80-hour work week for doctors is that you can expect to work at least one 80-hour week before turning fifty. Be prepared to deal with how the long hours and uncertainty will affect your relationships. Your spouse, children, and relatives may end up spending Christmas, Hanuka, or Thanksgiving without you.

You should always be aware of how tired you are and avoid sleep deprivation. You have to be prepared to handle life-and-death situations at any given moment you’re on the clock and when you’re on-call. You need to be well-rested and thinking clearly.

2. Injury on the Job

Not many doctors are as prepared for injury on the job as they may be for responding to long hours. While hospitals are kept clean and sanitized, there are other risks you may face when clocking in for your shift.

Always make sure you’re wearing slip-resistant shoes. Wet floors are one of the most common causes for injury and can result in cuts, bruises, head injuries, and even spinal cord injuries. Always be aware of where needles are and stay alert for erratic or violent patients.

No matter how cautious you are, you still may be hurt on the job. If you do, you will want adequate disability insurance to help cover the financial burden of your time off and medical expenses.

3. Malpractice

As a doctor, you will work hard to keep your patients safe and healthy. Regardless of how careful and caring you are, there’s always the chance that a patient will file a medical malpractice lawsuit against you. You need to be prepared for this.

About 60% of doctors over 55 have faced medical practice lawsuits. If you’re one of the many women becoming an obstetrician/gynecologist, you’re going into one of the medical fields that are most often targetted for lawsuits.

Make sure you research if your hospital properly covers malpractice lawsuits or if you’re personally liable. You also want to find good coverage from a reputable malpractice insurance company. This can help protect your reputation and your assets.

4. Addiction and Mental Illness

As you’re becoming a doctor, you’re probably learning about how much stress and pressure it takes to provide the best patient care during high-stress situations. As you become responsible for your own patients, the stress compounds with elevated responsibility.

Being around controlled substances can also take a toll on some physicians who resort to abusing prescription drugs to cope and self-medicate. Around 15% of doctors are drug addicts. In fact, drug addiction is more prevalent in the medical field than it is in the general population. Be aware of the risks, and always use caution when taking prescription medications.

As a doctor, you’re also no impervious to mental health issues. With the stress, debt, and pressure you will face, be prepared for the possibility that you may be one of many physicians that struggles with mental health issues. Seek help if you find yourself experiencing depression or anxiety during med school or after.

5. Debt

Earning a medical degree is costly, very costly. You’re probably well aware of how much debt you’re facing as a med student, but the reality of paying off your debt may not have sunk in, yet. Most medical students spend almost $60,000 per year on academic expenses. The average medical student winds up with about $200,000 in debt. This can be difficult to manage and repay when you first begin practicing. It can also strain your relationship with your spouse.

You should remain aware of your debt, but try not to become overwhelmed. You may even be able to find a forgiveness program to eliminate some of your debt. Also, do not panic if your residency doesn’t pay enough to quickly pay down your debt–this is normal. Make sure you pay your minimum payments or contact your lender to defer payment or reduce payment amounts.

As a woman going into the medical field, you should be proud of your accomplishments and look forward to a life full of joy and fulfillment. Before you leave medical school, take the time to assess the risks and prepare yourself in case there is an accident. Don’t be afraid to seek help and protect yourself–you’ve worked hard to get where you are, you deserve peace of mind.