Alexia Mieses looks at what the medical education community is actually doing about trying to prevent burnout in medical students and physicians.


Burnout is a syndrome of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, combined with a sense of low personal accomplishment, that leads to decreased effectiveness at work. In the most severe (and tragic) cases, burnout leads to depression and suicide. It does not happen overnight. I argue that it begins before medical training, as early as college. Pre-med students place extreme pressure on themselves to perform well in school and shine on their application to medical school.
In one study, 63% of medical students in their third year of medical school experienced a traumatic event as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). These events included but were not limited to violent patients, death, and patient suffering. Many of these events occurred during internal medicine and surgery rotations. What's more, 89% of students experienced approximately seven nontraumatic stressful events. Traumatic events were associated with personal growth by the end of the clinical year, whereas nontraumatic stressful events were associated with depression and other stress symptoms........

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