Second-year medical student Kailey Shuler said participating in the stress management program last year reassured her she was not the only one experiencing the pressures of medical school.
“The biggest take-away that I got from the program was the fact that I was not alone in medical school,” she said.
In its 29th year at OSU-COM, the Stress Management Program provides tools to help first-year students deal with the pressures of medical school. The program covers topics including peer support and empathy, reframing, conflict resolution, relaxation response, study and test-taking skills, personal relationships and wellness.
“We believe that our program is the longest-running program of its type in any medical school in the country,” said Michael Pollak, Ph.D., professor of behavioral sciences. He and Alicia Ford, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of behavioral sciences, are faculty coordinators for the program.
In addition to personal stress management, the program also was created to facilitate development of a peer support system among first-year students, to provide a confidential forum where first-year students can discuss issues of concern and to identify upper-class students who can be a resource for first-year students.
Second-year medical students volunteer to lead small groups of first-year students in seven weekly meetings.
This year, Shuler was a stress management team leader and was able to impart wisdom and reassurance to current first-year medical students.
“It was a very valuable experience for me to share what I learned last year with current first-year students,” Shuler said.
Earlier this month, Pollak and Ford presented 32 student volunteers with certificates of appreciation for their time and effort to advise and listen to first-year students.
Second-year medical student Vinh Vu recalled that the program provided an opportunity to express his concerns with a group of students who were going through the same school experience.
“Hearing other people’s problems made me feel more at ease because I knew that I wasn’t the only one going through this stress,” he said. “The little lessons that they taught, like reframing, were beneficial because it helped me think more positively about my situation and realize that even though I am going through a lot in school and in life, there is always a positive perspective. Focusing on the positive helps relieve stress.”