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Impacts of Stress on Medical Students

Every day of school, a day closer to the aspiration of becoming a doctor and being satisfied by life. The impediments encountered in the present a just a blink of the real impediment that comes between in the pathway to become a physician of any kind. As the ambition to become a doctor of any sorts, you face many obstacles in medical school, preclinical training, and later in own practice. A medical professional must understand how to cope with obstacles because life is in their hand. But, these obstacles would not seem as big if you are informed about these obstacles. Importance of learning obstacles faced in the ambition of becoming a medical professional is stress, burnout, major depressive disorder, and anxiety disorder.


Firstly, stress is the response after the state of recognized danger or challenge from stimuli or event that cause bodily tension (Licht, Hull, & Ballantyne, 2017). Stress is in everyone’s life, and life cannot exist without stress. A stressor is stimuli which lead to stress to your body (Licht et al., 2017. An example of a stressor is a little error made on an exam leading to a poor score can cause stress. Distress is the variety of stress that is the response to repulsive stimuli (Licht et al., 2017). Different type of stress that is the outcome of a pleasurable stimulus is eustress (Licht et al., 2017). Medical professional often has the stress of doing impairment to the patient and not being capable of doing enough for the patient’s wellbeing.  There is also the stress of the patient not enduring the treatment leading to the doctors to confront the family of the patient’s condition. Performing a surgical procedure is stressful for many surgeons. Surgeons get tensed up while performing surgery because a single wrong incision can endanger the patient’s life. But with coping with stress many doctors can use exercise or write about the stress. This will let doctors cope with their stress, but also inform their patient’s on how they can cope with stress themselves. Stress over a long period of time can be draining physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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Additionally, the reduction of performance can be the result of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion is called burnout (Licht et al., 2017. Many medical professionals feel fatigued due to long work hours. If the medical professional back out of shifts, then the consequence that a patient is left untreated and death. Medical professionals do not give concentration to the limits of the workload for the patient’s health. According to a study on 433 respondents given a questionnaire to find a correlation of burnout among preclinical medical students showed 46% (van Venrooji, Barnhoorn, Giltay, & van Noorden, 2017). The study found that with less than six hours of sleep because of the growing workload has left them burnout (van Venrooji et al., 2017). It is easy for many medical professionals to forget to calm down because their lives are full of the stress of saving a life. Lives of patients can be in danger at any minute, so they forget their own problems to fix the problems of the patient. The result shows that less sleep among medical student can lead to a greater risk for burnout.

Major Depressive Disorder

Thirdly, according to Licht, Hull, & Ballantyne (2017) stated that major depressive disorder is a psychological disorder that comprises major depressive episode, with symptoms such as depressed attitude, difficulties with sleep, and lack of energy. Many health professionals have a depressing attitude towards their job because they face other peoples hardships leaving them thinking about stress all the time. Medical professionals are likely to feel depressed because they are taking the stress of their own life, job, and other peoples. In the study among medical students, the result explained how personality such as optimism and happiness plays a big role in having symptoms of depression (van Venrooji et al., 2017). Depression can influence interpersonal, social, and occupational wellness among medical students (van Venrooji et al., 2017). Low interpersonal and social functioning can lead to poor communication with the patient. Depression can have detrimental effects on a medical student leading them to suicide or self-harm.

Anxiety Disorders

Lastly, anxiety disorder is an umbrella of mental disorders that relate to a variety of irrational fears and draining uneasiness (Licht et al., 2017). Many health professionals might have the irrational of failing or killing their patients. But, for many medical students, the irrational fear is failing medical school and making their parent ashamed of themselves. Medical school students feel this way because it takes a lot of work and money to even be in medical student. According to the response from the survey, the correlation of low optimism and low happiness was the leading cause of medical students receiving symptoms of anxiety (van Venrooji et al., 2017). Low optimism which could be medical students belittling themselves as failures.


In conclusion, of most importance, preclinical medical students, residents, or professionals must learn about stress, burnout, major depressive disorder, and anxiety disorder as it may be facing in their path. Learning about stress can be significant to medical professionals because the job has a lot of stress. Not just knowing about stress but being aware of how to cope with stress. Burnout is also important for medical personnel to realize that to take a break when your body is telling you to take a break. Major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder are correlated with the personality of medical students.


  • Licht, D. M., Hull, M. G., & Ballantyne, C. (2017). Scientific American: Psychology(2nd Edition). New York, N.Y.: Worth Publishers.
  • van Venrooji, L. T., Barnhoorn, P. C., Giltay, E. J., & van Noorden, S. M. (2017). Burnout, depression and anxiety in preclinical medical students: A cross-sectional survey. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health , 29 (3), 1613-22.


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