How To Handle Grade Stress

Medical school provides one of the most rigorous programs of study you can get. As a freshman you have to wade through anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. You're required to memorize the position of every nerve, artery, vein, tendon, muscle, lymphatic, bone, and joint. During your first year you're forced to digest and remember a huge number of unessential facts before moving on to more relevant studies.

And during that first year - medical school's boot camp - you get ranked (and eliminated) on the basis of your memory alone. That is, on how well you can recall the parts of your cadaver - which is your companion more hours of the day than your roommate or family. It's not uncommon for 86 students in a class of 96 to fail their first medical school exam. And for 25 of those 96 to flunk out or drop out before the end of the four-year program. Some students drop out of medical school after the first day.

But those who remain go one of two directions:

  • they get through successfully, which means they become doctors while not losing their perspective and humanity; or
  • they get through, but they have hurt themselves and others beyond repair.

There is a huge danger on putting too much emphasis on grades and students cope in ways that harm them forever.

These are advices for students who worry about grades - whatever grade you're in and whatever you're studying. In the chase for good grades, please watch that these things don't happen to you.

Wrong Ways to Handle Grade Stress

1. You study too much. Students who are learning laws of healthful living lose their own health and emotional balance completely.

Have you ever studied on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve? Some medical students do. They never take time to exercise their muscles, to relax, to grow socially and spiritually.

Intelligence is not only the ability to memorize. It includes the ability to balance numerous activities and demands, to think on your feet, to get along with different kinds of people, to know you can depend on divine help. Make sure you don't forget to learn those things, too.

2. You forget relationships. When all is said and done, relationships are what last and make our lives meaningful. The people we have loved and who have loved us, lives we have influenced for the better.

Many students enter medical school or other training with wonderful intentions of serving people. When they get out. But as Solomon said, we must use each day. During your time “studying to be useful,” remember that God has placed you among people who need you - today, now.

Countless medical students get divorced because in their stress over grades, they have ignored or abused their mates. Other medical students close out friends and even family in order to study. Grades are never worth lost relationships.

3. You abuse your body. Students live on caffeine to get through a heavy test schedule, stay up all night to cram, skip meals, and get addicted to alcohol or other drugs to help them escape the stress of grades.

No one will ask you your grades when you're out of school. But your health will be with you for the rest of your life. A grade is never worth your health.

4. You never take time for relaxation and fun. One student lost all his hair because of grade stress. Others developed ulcers, spastic colitis, severe headaches, palpitations of the heart, rashes, allergies, and hypertension.

A number of medical students each year are sent to psychiatrists for depression, nervous breakdowns, or even suicide attempts. Some have killed themselves because the pressure got too much for them.

Make it an important part of your education to learn how to relax, kick back, and have fun with other people. Know how to enjoy life.

5. You compromise your integrity. Competition for grades swallows many students and makes them dishonest. I've known a number of cases in which students cheated to get a better grade. They copied someone else's exam answers, used crib sheets, studied an illegally obtained copy of an exam, faked a lab experiment, falsified or made up research data, turned in a paper done by someone else, or created false clinical information about a patient.

Now, would you want to go to a doctor who had done any of these? Remember, in every profession an honest, moral worker with average grades is much more valuable than someone who cheats to get ahead.

Cultivate lasting morals and never compromise them for a grade.

Free Medical Advice

Advice on how to keep grades from hurting your health and humanity.

1. Forget grades and really learn. Memorizing won't make you smart. But learning how to study a subject and being enthusiastic about it will take you far.

And wouldn't you much rather have a doctor or lawyer or teacher who learned his or her material because he or she liked it and enjoyed it rather than one who graduated summa cum laude but just memorized facts by rote?

2. Create a balance between study, exercise, and fun. Yes, fun. You need it. Every human being does. And times of relaxation and exercise will help you be a better student.

3. Work hard to learn fairly. Don't ever cheat or take shortcuts to get a grade. You'll cheat yourself later - and everyone else you work for and serve.

4. Set short-term, realistic goals. If you were in medical school, for example, you might set the goal of learning the hand and arm muscles in one weekend. Don't worry about the whole body at once.

5. Do the work of God. Remember that You are God's servant during your school time as well as after. He holds you responsible for how you spend each moment of every day.

6. Let God give you wisdom. Read this text: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally”. Did you know that thoughtfully reading the Bible will make you wiser and a better student?

Let God help you keep grades in perspective and get smart about the important, lasting things. He can make you wise beyond any textbook.

Health | Mind | Education | Self-Help

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