More than 50 medical students sat in the dark with their eyes closed and focused on relaxing and breathing. The rare, quiet break in their day was led by Aunna Pourang, M.D. ’10, who encouraged the students to focus on themselves and the present time instead of pending assignments or exams.
Pourang visited current students in the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute of the University of Florida to share advice on coping with medical school stress with her talk titled, “Stress Less, Meditate More: What I wish I’d known during medical school.”
“Just because we’re in medicine and are doctors doesn’t mean we’re immune to this,” Pourang said. “Doctors can’t adequately care for others if they don’t care for themselves. If you really want to be successful, you need to care for yourself first because it will catch up with you.”
Pourang presented a holistic approach to medical care, which includes a healthy diet, regular exercise and stress management. She recently wrote a book, “Meditate don’t Medicate: A 14-Day Journey of Letting Go and Finding Yourself,” which guides the reader through reflection, meditation and a daily health-and-gratitude log to make effective changes.
The 2010 UF College of Medicine graduate presented a case study of a 21-year-old medical student suffering from a list of symptoms related to depression and anxiety. She later revealed that she was the medical student who struggled to maintain her emotional and physical wellbeing during her four years in medical school.
“I’m in my first year of medical school, and I’m trying to avoid the breakdowns that people have,” first-year medical student Nadine Zeidan said after Pourang’s presentation. “I want to enjoy medical school and focus on more than just academics. It’ll make me a better doctor.”
During her UF undergraduate studies, Pourang was accepted to the UF College of Medicine Junior Honors Medical Program. She graduated from medical school in 2010 and completed her family medicine residency in 2013 at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.
The UF College of Medicine Office of Student Counseling and Development sponsored Pourang’s visit to speak with current medical students.