What You Need to Know About

ADHD in Med School

ADHD in Med School

Can you have ADHD and be a successful doctor or physician?

There’s an assumption we’ve heard a lot: “You can’t have ADHD and succeed as a med student or professional." We’re here to set the record straight. There are plenty of successful med students and practicing physicians who have ADHD. We know, because we've worked with many of them.

The problem is not that people who struggle with ADHD can't learn and effectively practice medicine. It's that, too often, we pretend these struggles don't exist — and we fail to help these medical professionals develop the skills they need to overcome them.

Over the years, many intelligent, driven, and high-achieving individuals have come to us because they struggled with ADHD in med school and needed strategies to help manage it. Or others came for assistance and later found out they had undiagnosed ADHD.

In this video, we examine life as a med student or physician with ADHD and outline how it can impact your journey through school and into your career. We also share methods to navigate ADHD in medical school and beyond.

Infographic: What ADHD Looks Like in Med School

The Challenges of ADHD & Lectures

How ADHD Affects Studying and Learning in Med School

Learning, especially in highly technical environments like medical, pharmacy, or veterinary schools, starts with structure and organization. The information is provided, the student obtains the information, files it away, and can retrieve it later. This is great, in theory. But in practice, it doesn’t automatically work this way for all med students, including many of those with ADHD. For example, if there’s a breakdown between how the information comes in and your ability to retrieve it later, it’s going to be much harder to use that information when you need it. One STATMed student described it like this:
If I get distracted or get lost during the lecture, then it’s pretty much game over, and I can’t get back on track. So, I just sit there and play around online until the lecture ends. Then I’m always behind, which is terrible because the flow of information never stops. And this happens to me a lot.
Joe, Second-Year Medical Student
This video reviews methods and strategies to help offset issues that may arise with studying and ADHD.

ADHD and Time Management

Med Students and Physicians Don't Have Time to Spare

Optimal Study Session Structure Chart displays an ineffective study session and shares the 50/10 study rule,  recommending 50 minutes of uninterrupted continuous study and 10 minutes for a non-study break.

Time management is a critical skill in med school — and beyond. With the massive amounts of information you’re responsible for and the compressed timeframe, it can seem impossible to get a handle on this skill. And if you have ADHD, time management may feel like an impossible task.

Struggles with ADHD and time management are rarely more apparent than when trying to get through a study session. With no plan and no workflow in place, med students can quickly get distracted and off-track. Add in random breaks and interruptions, and your focus and memory start to degrade, making the time you’ve spent far less productive. Plus, alternating between tasks — like studying and checking messages — can take double the time to complete things, putting you even farther behind.

In this video, we share ways students and professionals with ADHD can improve time management.

ADHD and the Boards

Mitigating ADHD's Impact on Test-Taking

Besides learning to navigate the insane pace and high volume of medical school, test-taking for both med school and boards can be intimidating and nerve-wracking. Your entire future can rest on how you approach these intense, complex questions and vignettes. For students with struggling with ADHD and test-taking, it can be even more daunting.

In this video, we outline ways smart students might miss questions and explore specific strategies “bad test-takers” can use.

Does Any of This Sound Like You?

You're not alone!

Contact us and we can talk it through.

Med student thinking about how to succeed in med school in front of dark blue background
STATMed Podcast host Ryan Orwig reviews how one ER doc went on to success after failed board exams.
Doctor struggling in med school swinging through a forest over a deep pit with books and laptops shaped like alligators.
Illustration: Doctor with laptop and books reviews the path she took to succeed in med school