The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

From Burnout to Brilliance: A Medical Student’s Guide to Thriving in the Academic Marathon

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen talks to Dr. Sejal Desai, a family medicine physician with over 20 years of experience with a board certification in obesity medicine. They discuss how medical students can navigate their med school journeys and the feeling of burnout, work-life balance, and the three things she wished

  • [00:00] Introduction
  • [03:19] A Med Student’s Life Journey
  • [05:44] Navigating Burnout
  • [11:44] Three Things Dr. Desai Wishes She Knew Before Starting Out
  • [17:45] Is Work-Life Balance Possible?
  • [21:04] What Dr. Desai Would Change About US Healthcare
  • [22:47] Parting Thoughts

Navigating Burnout

Dr. Desai dislikes the word “burnout” especially in medicine where physicians are just simply told what to do. She believes that it’s important for med students to take some time, focus on themselves, and figure out what it is that they really want. She cites Jay Shetty, a motivational speaker, and the concept of “dharma” as an important learning, which is all about figuring out our place in the world and using our gifts to make a better place. From this, it’s important for medical students to take some time and re-evaluate their where and why to help them navigate their eventual path and career.

Dr. Desai’s Advice in Retrospect

Dr. Desai shares three things she wished she knew before starting out her career as a family medicine physician: first is that bedside manners matter more than grades. Grades are important, but they are not everything, especially when patients care more about how attentive and honest doctors are and not what grade they got in medical school. Secondly, medicine is not just about helping patients but also administrative work such as documentation, labs, and imaging to name a few. Managing your time according to this is crucial to prevent being overworked and overwhelmed. Lastly, she realized how big of a role lifestyle plays in disease. Almost all diseases are related to four things: nutrition, physical activity, quality of sleep, and stress levels. If we learn and fix this early in life, we can fix a lot of health problems in the long run.

Work-Life Balance

Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Desai believes that work-life balance is achievable. She suggests paying attention to three important things when it comes to work-life balance. First is communicating well and setting expectations with colleagues on time and schedules, second is delegating tasks, and the last one is scheduling the downtime such as personal hobbies and self-care.

Reach out to Dr. Sejal Desai via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and her website for more details about her work.

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Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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