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The years of medical training, namely medical school and residency, while rewarding can also be incredibly intense, grueling years for doctors in training to endure. Unfortunately, rates of suicide among future doctors to be and doctors in training have been on the rise. These unfortunate events may be related to intense training schedules, long hours/call schedules, rigorous course loads, lack of time for personal hobbies/activities, increased pressure to perform well on high stakes exams/boards, and more. Having a strong support network of friends and family is essential for maintaining health, happiness, and sanity in medical school and residency.Here are the top ways friends/families can support loved ones, physically and emotionally throughout medical school and residency:

Physically

Some families are able to help their loved ones offset the substantial costs of medical training, such as by helping to pay rent/living expenses or contributing to tuition or fees. This support can certainly provide relief from some of the financial stressors of medical training — every little bit can help, no matter how small.

I recall many times in medical school when my family would send me "care packages" with snacks, candy, gum, or other low cost trinkets to serve as positive encouragement and to show that they are thinking of me and supporting me. Other times, I received a card/letter from a family member or friend checking in, saying hello, or reminding me how proud they were of me. These low cost physical gestures can go a long way to show someone how much they care.

There were some days I was buried deep in studying for boards or an exam, and simply receiving a phone call or text message from a family or loved one brightened my day. Small gifts, cards, or even just checking in to say hello can make a big difference to a doctor in training during the rigorous years of medical training.

Emotionally

Being supportive, understanding, and patient are probably the three most important characteristics for families/friends of doctors in training to portray. There were times during my medical training that I had planned to meet up with friends, scheduled a Skype session with family, or had planned a dinner date in advance, only to find out that my shift ended up running long at the hospital, that a study session got out late, or that I had to squeeze in last minute studying and cancel my intended plans. Having friends and family who were understanding and accepting of the sometimes hectic schedule of a medical student/resident is very beneficial during medical training.

While medical training often involves several years of intense work, long hours, dedicated studying, and frequent hospital call, having supportive friends and family can make a big difference during these stressful times. Having loved ones who are patient with the busy schedule and take time to show they understand and care can really enhance ones years of medical training. While medical school and residency can be grueling, it's important for trainees and their loved ones to remember it does end in one becoming a competent, qualified physician... and the long hours and frequent call schedules tend to improve!

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Justine Falcone

Justine Falcone

Justine graduated Summa Cum Laude and co-valedictorian from Rollins College before pursuing an MD from the University of Florida. She is currently a PGY-2 in Emergency Medicine. Justine scored 245 on the USMLE Step 1 and 255 on the Step 2 examinations. She scored 80 or above on five of her NBME shelf exams during her clerkship years.
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