Why Some Students Experience Problems

Many students who have academic problems exhibit some of the same destructive behaviors. They often refuse to utilize available resources and generally have a non-participatory attitude. They don’t participate in tutoring, come to the office for help, read their email or respond to attempts to help them.

These students often expend their energy on unproductive activities, like fighting a parking ticket or arguing with a roommate. Sometimes students end up having problems with a course because they are too busy fighting with administration over relatively minor things. These problems serve the purpose of temporarily distracting students from their real problem – that they are falling behind in work.

Some students have trouble because they have too much time on their hands and are unable to structure their day around studying, learning issues, being involved in research, volunteering, networking, etc. The busier students are, the better off and more successful they usually are.

Some students have organization problems that prevent them from staying on top of their work, even if they have good intentions. There is so much to keep up with in medical school that a student can easily become overwhelmed. You must stay on top of your calendar daily or you may miss a required activity. Keeping a calendar a week in advance and scheduling out your time each day can help you feel less weighed down. Your advisors can help you with scheduling until you get the hang of it. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Sometimes students lose sight of the purpose of medical school – to prepare them to be a doctor. They become distracted, depressed, burned out and discouraged because they can’t see how the material they are being required to study has anything to with that mission. “I graduated! Now bring in the patients. What do you mean that I have to spend the next two years in the classroom? I thought I was going to be doing some doctoring.” Keep the light at the end of tunnel clearly in sight. After the first two years, you are in the hospital. And those years will go by quickly.

Remember that your advisors are there to help. The problems you are facing are common and your advisors are familiar with them – the workload is overwhelming, the new expectations are a heavy burden and your family feels rejected because of your time commitment. Reach out to your advisors. They can help you manage your time and put your problems into perspective.

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