christine heidi

The Black Hole of Reddit Premed

CHRISTINE HEIDI

CHRISTINE HEIDI

Christine is a first-year Ivy League medical student who is interested in narrative medicine and journalism. She also enjoys playing music, baking, and running in her free time.

The Internet can be a useful resource—but it is also filled with forums and various websites dominated by stressed pre-meds and med students, who sometimes dispense questionable advice. Reddit premed is a perfect example of this.

During college and when I was applying to med school, I tried to restrict how often I referenced these online forums, but I would sometimes end up looking at them anyway. Many people can probably relate to how anxiety-inducing I found the content of these sites to be. From users posting about their stats and activities, to others despairing about stressful school-related situations.

At one point, when I was anxiously waiting for a phone call from a school, I kept going online to one of the forums and refreshing repeatedly to see what the latest updates were. It made me feel awful, and I couldn’t focus on anything that day. It caused me a lot of unnecessary stress; everything would have turned out the same anyway.

This isn’t to say that the Internet is not a useful resource—it does have a lot of valuable information to offer—but I think that online resources should be used in moderation, especially when it comes to medical-related forums. My advice is:

Don’t:

Don’t feel the need to engage with websites that make you anxious or unhappy

I know I would feel like I had to keep up with everyone else, and read about what people were doing so I didn’t miss out on something important. But there are plenty of more reliable resources that can give you advice about med school or how to apply, like counselors, professors, or friends who are in med school. They tend to be kinder and more realistic in their advice.

You’re allowed to use the resources that work for you, and avoid the environments that are stressful or detrimental to your well-being.

Do:

Utilize the Internet for helpful resources, and know the difference between what is helpful and what is not

There are definitely some useful resources out there; for instance, I sometimes referenced the forums to get some information about specific schools and their applications. As long as you know the difference between what truly helps you and what just stresses you out, it’s possible to benefit from these online resources.  

Be mindful of the time you spend online in general

This is just something that I’ve been trying to work on personally. The amount of time that I spend looking at screens usually just makes me distracted or puts me in a low mood. Setting limits on screen time helps me to stay engaged with what’s actually going on around me, and puts things into perspective. Perspective can be especially important when it comes to getting through some of the stressful experiences that pre-meds and med students face.

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