Why resilience is key to medical school success

Have you ever thought about the correlation between resilience and medicine? Let’s analyse the meaning of resilience and its key role played during medial training.

From the very first moments as a medical student, until the conclusion of clinical training, the numerous obstacles and uncertainties along the path require a lot of fortitude in aspiring doctors. Even the brightest medical students, inevitably, will encounter difficult circumstances that lead them to reflect on their choices.

Some examples include a patient dying the day before the holidays start, getting too many questions wrong the night before a major exam, or, as a resident, having to stitch a surgical wound a second time at the end of a long day, after making a mistake the first time. These are all examples where one’s motivation and passion are put to the test.

Being a medical student or resident means facing various failures, which are naturally part of the learning process, but they may also carry an emotional weight. Without strong inner resilience, it becomes more difficult to become a competent professional.

Resilience does not develop from success or a risk-free career. On the contrary, it develops into taking such risks and making mistakes. It is precisely in moments of difficulty, when things do not go according to plan, that you really get to know your inner self.

Many things have to go according to plan to get into medicine. In fact, the Association of American Medical Colleges indicates resilience as one of the key prerequisites for future doctors. This doesn’t mean intentionally taking risks or putting yourself in difficult situations, but instead looking for challenges that need to get out of your comfort zone. Resilience is indeed learned by managing uncertainty.

In addition to the experience of mistakes, the development of resilience goes through the network of human relations that surround us. Indeed, as social creatures, humans cope better with stress when their experiences can be shared with a group.

Resilience can in fact be strengthened by a solid network of people who support aspiring doctors during their training. The path of becoming a doctor can be an isolating experience. However, having a support network inside and outside the training places is essential to face obstacles and relieve the stress that follows.

It is therefore important to see the uncertainties and difficulties encountered during one’s path not as mistakes, but as moments of reshaping, training and personal growth.


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.