A Laval University medical student is claiming overworked doctors in some hospitals are bullying residents into working unreasonable hours.

Jessica Rheault said the stress was becoming too much, triggering anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

“When you just spent 14 hours in hospital and you have to study and you have exams (it’s too much),” she said, adding that she expected her medical internship to be challenging but said the demands were excessive.

She claimed some doctors and nurses were bullies, pressuring students to add extra hours to already overloaded schedules.    

She wanted other students to know they're not alone in what she feels is an unhealthy environment.

“We have a culture of silence, and a culture of 'I want to be the best, I want to perfect, I don't want to show weakness,'” she said.

Rheault was used to being a top student when she started med school seven years ago – but is now thinking of dropping out.

“For the moment, I just decided to stop med school, just take a step back and I work in an administrative job,” she said.

Rheault said she's not blaming Laval University's Faculty of Medicine.

“They will do everything to take care of us, but it's in the hospital when all the doors are closed that things happen,” she said.

In 2016, the Federation of Quebec Medical Residents organized an intimidation awareness campaign and surveyed med students from four Quebec universities.

Forty per cent said they have been intimidated or bullied at work.

“An example is it being strongly suggested not to take vacation because it will be a decrease of our clinical exposure,” said Dr. Aris Hadjinicolaou, vice-president of the Federation of Quebec Medical Residents.

Residents said it's difficult to say ‘no’ to the doctors supervising them.

“It's also the person who is evaluating you and is the person who's ultimately responsible for saying whether or not you pass the rotation, and whose evaluation will give the weight that will allow you to get a fellowship, a sub-specialty position and eventually an employment opportunity,” said Hadjinicolaou.

The Quebec College of Physicians isn't commenting on the matter.