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11 March, 2024

How to Deal with Burnout When Studying for the INBDE

You can expect to learn more in this article about some techniques to help avoid or deal with burnout while studying for the INBDE!
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As dental students, studying while finding a work-life balance is not a foreign concept to us. Taking predental courses and studying for the DAT throughout undergrad and now reviewing material in preparation for taking the dental boards, we all have to find and adopt a study schedule that best fits our personal needs. Similar to the DAT, there isn’t one way to study for and ace the INBDE. It can be easy to forgo the little things when we have a big test to study for, but more importantly than acing the exam is doing so in a way that also maximizes personal well-being. Those little things that help provide a balance during tough days in dental school, such as going to the gym regularly, cooking meals, walking your dog, or spending time with friends and loved ones, just to name a few, are equally important routines to keep while studying for the boards to prevent burnout. In order to prevent and deal with burnout, it is important to first take a moment to reflect and identify aspects within our own lives that are potential contributors. By doing so, we can then take a more proactive approach to prevent it when studying for the boards. In this article, we will address some effective strategies to deal with burnout:

  1. Reaching out to support systems
  2. Altering your daily routine
  3. Practicing mindfulness and reorienting yourself to personal goals

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦ Reaching out to support systems

It can often feel quite isolating when studying for the INBDE, but keep in mind that there are many people around you who can help make the studying process more bearable or even enjoyable. Form study groups with your dental school peers and share resources! In the process of sharing resources or talking through concepts, sometimes you may be able to increase the efficacy of your own studying. For example, your peers may have insight on different mnemonics that help them retain certain material or use a resource that you previously were not aware of but fits your own style of learning. For others, it is most helpful to draw boundaries between personal and professional life. To get your mind off of studying for the INBDE, make it a priority to schedule time with your friends and family to have a phone call or grab a meal to catch up. There are many sources of support that exist around you, so don’t be afraid to reach out to others. Your future self will thank you if you develop sustainable study strategies and goals.

πŸ•° Altering your daily routine

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, another possibility to consider is to create a bit more variety in your schedule and make alterations to your routine. This could come in the form of extending the period of time you study but increasing the number of breaks you take in between. It could also mean trying to find other times during the day to study. For some people, they find themselves being able to retain information better when they are studying while working out. Others find it easier to do flashcards while they are commuting and on public transportation. Take a moment to reflect on what has worked for you and what hasn’t, so that you can continuously refine the smaller details.

🧘 Practicing mindfulness and reorienting yourself to personal goals

It is incredibly important to make sure you practice mindfulness throughout this process. While it can be easy to lose sight of your goals with so many stressors going on around you, taking some time for self-reflection will go a long way. Don’t brush off warning signs that your body or mind might be telling you as insignificant. You may find it helpful to develop exercises that help relax your body, such as breathing and meditation exercises. Why this is so important is because you need to calm your body and be aware of what it can handle in order to maximize productivity. It will be infinitely harder trying to sit down and study for a big exam if there are constantly fleeting thoughts running through your mind. When times get stressful, it is also worth it to take a moment and reorient yourself to your personal goals. Keep in mind that the INBDE is a pass/fail exam! Don’t be so hard on yourself, knowing that passing is the only thing that matters and the actual percentage you receive on the exam does not. Oftentimes, our worst enemy is ourselves. As pre-dental students and throughout dental school, we are accustomed to trying to be the best in the room. Lean into the pass/fail and use it to help take some of that stress off of yourself.

β†ͺ️ Conclusion

Make sure to check in and be honest with yourself constantly. Change is hard and so is making alterations to what you are used to. When making changes, you may want to consider piloting a new schedule for a week or two to see how that adjustment is and reassessing every month or two to make changes as needed. Regardless, just make sure you remain flexible and willing to adapt your study schedule to your changing needs. Happy studying!