first year burnout

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    Just wondering if anyone else has found themself feeling burned-out already (halfway through year 1) because I am really struggling! I have been trying to reassure myself that this is normal, but after working so hard to get into medical school, I wasn’t expecting to be so disillusioned so soon! I am passing all the classes, but not by much lately, and I am exhausted by trying to maintain some kind of balance between school and home. I thought I had found that by studying from home since required labs are over for a while, but now I feel isolated and lonely on top of overwhelmed!

    I tried to plan for this, thinking that with my children a little older (7 – 18 yrs) it would be easier, but things never go as planned… my oldest is getting married next month, my youngest HATES her school, and the kids in the middle have sports, doctors appts, homework, etc. The list seems to go on and on. And, as all of you know, the pace of medical school doesn’t allow for a whole lot of extra time to deal with all the family issues.

    I guess I am looking for some encouragment from someone who’s been in this type of rut — or just some reassurance that I am not alone… the old “misery loves company” thing. Anybody?


    I have definitely been overwhelmed at various times throughout this process. I found first year to be much more stressful than 2nd (so far). At my school, spring of MS-1 is the craziest courseload/testing schedule. Of course, that’s different at each school. In addition, this year I feel like I’m better primed to absorb the information. I’ve been studing less and maintaining my grades.

    Do you have any upperclassmen at your school that you could ask to get a feel of how the remaining years are?


    also in 1st year, and was really feeling low and just like I had nothing left to give.
    :tired: :goodvibes: :goodvibes: :goodvibes:
    I skipped classes and went swimming with my daughter. It was only a half day, and the energy it gave me back!
    Being alone doesn’t help. Reach out to other students, share some laughs … and we all thought the hard part was getting in.

    EM momEM mom

    I’m a resident now, but I remember clearly that 1st year “slump” right after the holidays, where I thought that just about anything would be preferable to returning to the grind of med school (and I didn’t have children, and although at the time living with my now husband, wasn’t even engaged yet so I had FAR LESS responsibilities!). Your feelings are totally normal!

    The best advice I have is try to reconnect with your class…maybe go to one class a day or find someone that wants to study with you. My friends and I solved this problem by skipping one of our classes together and going to the gym at least 3 times a week (if only I could’ve kept THAT up! 😀 ). Find someone to talk to and at least you won’t feel so isolated and overwhelmed!

    Good luck, and feel free to look for support here or PM me anytime!

    shauna ,MS,MomMD2Bshauna,MS,MomMD2B

    wendim you are SO not alone! :tired:

    Wow! I digress. :blush:
    Sorry for going WAY off topic.

    I think you’re doing FANTASTIC being that you have a large family and you’re passing through okay! Please don’t stress by feeling that you should be doing MORE or BETTER than you already are! As long as the kids are still alive and sane, and you’re passing through school – no problem! This med school (and residency) thing is only for a season! You’ll survive it, and the kids will too, and everyone will be the better for it when all is done! :yes:

    Hang in there girly! 😉
    We’re all in this together! :grouphug:



    Thank you all so much for your replies, I am only now realizing how much I have been feeling alone in all of this. I am going to try to get back down to campus once or twice a week, but does anyone else find it hard being older and having so little in common with everyone outside of the coursework? I’ve met only one other mother in my school, a year ahead of me, and only a handful of other “older” students, most of whom have switched to a part-time schedule. I sometimes leave feeling worse, like I should have been doing this thirteen years ago and I wouldn’t struggle this way.

    I am trying to remain confident that this will pass, and I am sure that I will have to accept the fact that I am never going to be able to do it all perfectly. Still, it is so hard to balance school and family that I hadn’t even thought of trying to add any time for myself. I can just imagine the extra guilt… maybe that is part of the problem though.

    All of you are wonderful for sharing your insight and experiences, and I appreciate any and all suggestions.

    – Wendi


    does anyone else find it hard being older and having so little in common with everyone outside of the coursework?

    YES!!! What is really sad too is that we have a good size group of women with husbands/kids in our class but becuase I skip class and they do not, I feel that they have really pushed me out of the “group”. I get alot of negitive comments from them. Also, when I have asked to meet them to study, I have been blown off and they never invite me to go with them. It’s very upsetting. I was expecting to have more in common with the other women who are in the same situation as I am but it really seems to be no different than before medical school. I do have a group of classmates that I study with and do stuff with other than school related (aerobics, shopping, etc) but it is very hurtful, i think, that the people who should be able to relate to me haven’t tried. sorry about the down post. this just hit home and i needed to get it off of my chest.


    hi! i guess i am in a slump i actually thought it was me adjusting to med school and sleeping when i need to sleep, etc. i don’t study as much or as hard as last semester and i dont’ stress out as much about it. but i do get bogged down sometime and the thing that has kept me going is to keep reminding myself that next year this phase of med school will be over. to some people next year sounds far away but to me it sounds close. i know how fast a year can go. then i realize that this will all be behind me soon and i just need to keep going. this too shall pass.

    as far as being older and having nothing in common. definitely yes. i have even found that a couple of years makes a difference. and people without families even though they are the same age definitley cannot relate. i wonder if it is age or me sometimes though as even i i was younger i wouldn’t be out drinking and partying.


    I have two exams coming up next week that I really should be studying for so I shouldn’t be sitting here, but I have found that I feel better after I visit mommd so I am cutting myself some slack and wanted to post.

    It’s funny you mention about not wanting to party even when you were younger… I had my first child when I was seventeen, so I never did a whole lot of going out and partying, but judging by my e-mail from school, that is all anybody does nowdays! I think that is one of the things that makes me feel old and outcast – all these after exam parties and social events don’t interest me, and I cannot find time to get involved with the extracurricular volunteer stuff. I am doing well just to be getting by right now. I am trying to stay focused and look at the big picture and figure that once we get to the clinical years a lot of this won’t feel as depressing to me. In the meanwhile, it is good to know I am not as alone as I thought.

    shauna ,MS,MomMD2Bshauna,MS,MomMD2B

    Originally posted by rockfever:
    the thing that has kept me going is to keep reminding myself that next year this phase of med school will be over… this will all be behind me soon and i just need to keep going. this too shall pass.

    This is ALL I dream about!!!

    I’m a 37 yo AA Christian woman, so I don’t solidly fit in at school anywhere (that I’ve found yet). It IS a very lonely existence at school, :guilty: but I have my best friend (my Hubby) to talk to every night. 🙂
    I also have a GREAT supportive extended family with whom I’m VERY close. We’re all like-minded and get along very well. This is where I find my fellowship, not so much at school. :no:

    I do relate to some of the older family-orientated women in my class though. We talk about having babies while in med school, and stuff like that. That’s a blessing to have people to relate to about SOMETHING.


    sarah /tsarah/t

    Okay, so we all sound a little depressed, I too have gone through the feeling lonely and sad at school. and I’m only one out of two mom’s that skip class on a regular basis. On top of that, when I do talk about missing class I always feel obligated (for prides sake) to mention that I’m still doing better than ())&*&(& portion of my class so… :rotfl:
    I think, after reading all of your comments, its clear now that there are others out there who are going through exactly what we are going through. I’m so grateful that I found this website today.
    There’s a mountain facing all medical students, but you really don’t realize that its Everest until you’ve had children. Good luck everyone. I’ll be reading away. (I’m a 25 yr old mom of two, who feels like the old lady of the class in some ways and in others, feels as though maturity and grace have skipped a beat) rotfl



    The first year burn out is totally normal and I think, in retrospect, comes from a variety of places. Finally, your dream of being a doctor is a lot closer to coming true — you made it into med school, which is itself a huge achievement. But now you have to deal with the reality of medicine, and there’s a lot to absorb emotionally as well as intellectually. Doctors inevitably aren’t the Marcus Welby (or even Jane Seymour/ Medicine Woman) stereotypes one might expect — many are total assholes, but then again, many more are terrific.

    The grind does get a lot better. Once you’re in clinics, things really click. If you persist, you will make it. I know I went from being a very mediocre to poor student in the pre-clinical years (mainly because of very inadequate pre-medical courses and lots of cramming while working full time — I had little clue about how to cope with the material) — to being a star in the clinics and having a fantastic Dean’s letter reflect all my work.

    In first year, the way to keep yourself going professionally is to organize, organize, organize. Keep every scrap of notes you take in all the classes and whenever you study — you will make sense of it over the summer and it will cut down your Step 2 studying if you can make files on each subject you have to tackle so you won’t have to start from scratch. My friend made gorgeous binders on every subject and in second year she was totally set.

    Keep to a set routine that also includes some kind of self renewal — exercise, time with family, whatever really keeps you going.

    Don’t try to be perfect. It’s ok to let certain parts of your life slide a little as you try to survive this tough year. You will make it. If you’re passing your courses, you’re already doing a lot that’s right.

    Good luck and keep up the great work.



    So glad to hear I’m not the only one.


    ps…my roomate (another ms1) had a friend tell him before he came to med school that he should write down why he wanted to do this so that he could refer back to it on times when he was not motivated/burned out. He says that this has really helped him. I think it’s a great idea and wish I’d done it, so, take note, pre-meds!


    Hi. I don’t know if this thread is still going, but I just saw it tonight. I’ve been reading MomMD off and on for years, but this is the first time I’ve posted, because it’s only here that I’ve found other women who feel the same way.

    I’m a 34-year-old first year with a daughter who is 5. She and I both started school in August.

    I am experiencing significant burnout exacerbated by an unsupportive school. When I started school in August I didn’t realize that I was having significant health problems. Once I started failing classes and becoming sicker, I applied to go part-time, to break my first year into two. Our school does not have a 5-year program, and I didn’t even know about that as an option when I applied. Unfortunately, the academic affairs committee denied my part-time request. So I’m still in full time.

    I’ve had a hard time getting any answers from my student affairs department, but I’m pretty sure that they’re going to require me to repeat the year. I’ve never been in a situation where my academic integrity has been called into question, and like many of you, I feel completely isolated.

    I have very little in common with my classmates. Actually, I am the oldest student and the only mom in the class (so much for my school being family friendly). Thankfully, my husband is very supportive, but I’m in a complete personal/professional quandry. I feel that if I leave school now, I’ll see myself as a quitter (I’ve been working for 8 years to get here). But I miss my daughter, I can’t pass for the year (or at least can’t get anyone to answer my questions about it), and I would love to have another child.

    Is this just the time for burnout as some of you have expressed? I just got back from Spring Break.

    Will this feeling get any better? I saw another discussion here about physician burnout. Are there happy students, residents, docs, who are also moms?

    I went into medicine to work with people and have yet to see people. This part of the experience has not been fun and now I’m facing another year of it, without knowing if my health will be secure enough for me to be successful.

    Oh yeah, one last thing. One of the first years who left 2 years ago for medical reasons–although she was told by the school when she left that there would be no problems with her returning–had to hire a lawyer to get back in.

    Sorry for the long post. I know it’s a no no, but I haven’t had anyone to talk to about this who has any real understanding of what being in medical school, and a mom, is really like.

    Thanks for listening,

    EM momEM mom

    Hang in there Angela-although I can’t promise it will get better, I can promise that you are not alone! I am proof that there is a happy resident out there, although I have been through a fairly long road (2 clinical years and 2 lab years of a surgery residency-some of which was happy some of which was miserable) before finding where I fit in (and lets hope that someone feels that way on match day and takes me!).

    I’m not entirely sure why you feel that you will need to repeat the year…maybe you could elaborate (or maybe PM me if it something that you do not want to post), but I think a significant part of your current unhappiness is just not knowing what is going to happen for you. Is there any way that you could join a study group or meet with a couple of people from your class for coffee? Isolation is the worst feeling and I’m sure that people will connect with you better than you think if you give them a chance-and you may have to make the first move. I was friends with two girls that had kids during medical school and was often partners with a woman in her 40s that had a teenage son. Would I have ever have been “best friends” with the woman who was 20 years older than me (I was 22 at the time)-OK, probably not, but we both really benefitted from each other’s perspectives and she taught me a lot about what was really important in life (hint…it wasn’t medical school!).

    Just keep thinking about how much you want this, how hard you’ve worked for this and how proud your daughter will be of you! (And if it works out that it really isn’t for you, than that is OK, too!)

    Good luck…this too will pass!

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