Surviving medical school is one of the toughest hurdles a future doctor will face, and most enter their programs expecting to be challenged as they have never been challenged before. Medical students undergo rigorous coursework and must take in complex information at breakneck speeds. For some students, the adjustment to the curriculum and highly competitive environment can spark burnout, mental health issues, and failure to thrive or progress within the program. Students who find themselves in this situation often feel isolated and alone, as the stigma of failure in these spaces only adds to the silence around these issues.
Resources Are Available
Caleb Hentges, DO, who is now a resident in pediatrics at Sanford Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, shares his story of nearly failing out of medical school during his first year due to poor academic performance and mental health issues. He felt he was alone in his struggles because of the shame that keeps high-achieving students from discussing their issues. But after failing multiple classes and taking a leave of absence, he returned to class and asked for help. He acquired tutors for each subject and changed his routine and how he studied. Dr. Hentges went on to become student government president and an advocate for mental health awareness.
Dismissal Doesn't Have to Mean the End
StatMed Learning offers another such example with the story of “Mike,” an ER doctor in Florida who was dismissed from medical school due to his academic performance. The sheer volume of the information presented an unprecedented challenge, and Mike's old ways of studying proved ineffective. He failed exam after exam until he was dismissed, and while his appeal to re-enter medical school pended, he attended study skills courses to change his approach. He eventually returned to classes and began to make the grades needed to thrive.
Moving Forward After Failure
Dr. Diana Cejas, a pediatric neurologist, also tells a story of struggling throughout her early career days. She followed her dreams despite self-doubt and the doubt of others. Cejas failed her first several exams but studied harder and eventually received honors. As others questioned her worth and ability, she held steadfast to her dreams and followed the path to pediatric neurology. She maintains that others' doubts can provide motivation to work harder and to remind you why you chose the taxing field to begin with.
You Are Not Alone
Failure to thrive in medical school does not make you a failure. If you or your student is struggling with academics or other issues, and facing dismissal, know that there is help available and you do not have to go it alone. National student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento can advocate for your academic rights. Put Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm on your side. Call 888-535-3686 for more information, or contact us online for a consultation.