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Why The Modern Day Superhero Is Burning Out In Their Origin Story



Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a world with superheroes? To know that if there ever was danger you could count on a protector to be there for you upon beck and call? This idea can provide comfort in times of uncertainty, when the ups and downs of life may seem out of control.

In a world without superheroes the closest we have is doctors. Between bringing someone back from the verge of death, finding a new solution when all hope is lost, and always seeming to be at the right place at the right time to lend their services, doctors are who we can turn to when we are trapped in our darkest situations. They also provide us with comfort through the knowledge they hold when we are faced with fearful uncertainty.

To quote the great Spiderman movie, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Many see these responsibilities as the lives placed in the hands of doctors, but in reality these responsibilities are an entire career’s worth of external pressures. Doctors are tasked with the burden of keeping up with knowledge, balancing patients, endless admin work, and unreasonably long hours. These responsibilities come with the job of healthcare heroes and are not ones physicians take lightly — but they can often lead to career-ending burnout.

When superheroes are faced with burnout in fictional narratives, it usually comes at the part of the story where they are ready to pass the torch to the next generation – but what if our healthcare system is burning out our physicians before they even get their white coats? According to “Psychology Today,” many students are burning out simply because of the pressures they face just to get into medical school. Which begs the question, are we naturally selecting only the strongest physicians or stifling innovation and medical advancement?

Dr. Gail Gazelle, MD, a venerated physician coach and part-time Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, is championing an avant-garde approach to tackling this burnout crisis in and author in her newly released book, Mindful MD. 6 Ways Mindfulness Restores Your Autonomy and Cures Healthcare Burnout.” Today she shares with us three things every aspiring med student and educator should be aware of to avoid burnout before medical school.

#1 The Obsession with Extracurriculars: 

The emphasis on a broad range of extracurricular activities, coupled with a lack of clarity about what medical schools actually value, is pushing students to overextend themselves. This “extracurricular bidding war” is leading students to pursue activities not out of genuine interest, but out of fear that they won’t measure up to peers.

#2 The Hidden Costs of Ambiguity: 

The reluctance of medical schools to clarify their selection criteria means students are left guessing, often taking on more than they can handle in hopes of ticking imaginary boxes. This environment of constant uncertainty exacerbates feelings of burnout, setting a dangerous precedent for their medical careers.

#3 Rethinking Admissions: 

Could there be a more transparent, humane way to select our future doctors? The current method may be unintentionally stifling growth, fostering egocentrism, and deterring genuine commitment to the medical profession.

A hero can’t do it alone – when they are faced with the toughest of challenges they need a team to rely on to help carry these burdens. It’s not just about getting into med school; it’s about ensuring that the journey fosters growth, resilience, and genuine dedication. Isn’t it time to reconsider an admission process that risks creating doctors already on the verge of burnout before they’ve even begun their careers?

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