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Finding Your Support System

Building a Network of Mentors and Peers in Medical School

Establishing a support system is crucial for so many different reasons. From providing emotional support during challenging times to relieving stress through shared experiences, a support network plays a pivotal role in stimulating improved mental health. It enhances resilience in the face of setbacks, granting access to valuable knowledge and advice from diverse perspectives. And it additionally offers a platform for celebrating successes with those who genuinely care. A support system encourages the adoption of healthy coping mechanisms when we go through the challenges we face throughout medical school and it opens so many doors to networking opportunities, and arguably the most important reason is the potential for longevity and health benefits. 

So Here Are Some Strategies for Building Your Support System:

Seek Out Mentors: You may have heard of "mums and dads" when you first start(ed) university - senior students designated to play a parental role away from home, serving as mentors and potential friends. While the structure of such mentorship programs may differ across universities, actively participating in these schemes is an excellent way to glean advice and support from seasoned peers. Their wealth of experience can offer invaluable insights into navigating the academic landscape, choosing specialities, and honing effective study strategies. Not only will it guide you through the challenges of university but also enables a supportive connection with someone who has successfully traversed the path you are embarking upon.

Join Societies: There are an infinite number of societies - an eclectic mix ranging from academic clubs to sports teams, culture, and those delightfully niche ones you never knew existed. Academic societies are the best way to extend beyond your medical school curriculum, network with other people and learn more about the specialities you're perhaps interested in pursuing. In my personal experience, being part of sports teams (even though I was not very good) and cultural societies are where I have made some of the best friends and had the most incredible experiences. Immersing yourself in various groups will let you connect with other people who share your interests and hobbies, and you'll form meaningful connections that form an amazing personal support system. 

Family And Friends From School: Whilst it will be incredibly exciting to throw yourself into university life it's important to maintain those strong connections with friends from back home and family - they can be an invaluable lifeline. These are the relationships that will anchor you in a sense of familiarity so having regular communication will be a welcome reprieve from the intensity of medicine. 

Embarking on the demanding journey of medical school is undeniably smoother with a strong support system by your side. Making friends as an adult carries its own set of challenges, the accompanying anxiety, and the daunting task of putting yourself out there. However, the key takeaway is that you're never alone in this experience—countless others wrestle with similar feelings. The methods shared in this post aim to be your compass, guiding you to find your people. 

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