In a 2014 study from the Mayo Clinic and Stanford University, more than half of all U.S. medical students had symptoms of depression, and 56% reported themselves to be burned out.
Students’ time in medical school should help them grow and become insightful, caring doctors. Instead, medical education is somehow turning smart, gifted, enthusiastic applicants into exhausted and unhappy students who become interns, residents, and physicians at increased risk of depression and burnout.
I’m no stranger to the demands of medical school. My father and father-in-law were both doctors. I’m a pulmonologist, my wife is a nephrologist, and we have a son who is an internist and another who is in medical school. These issues are personal to me. As the dean of a medical school, they also focus my efforts to modify the learning environment to keep pace with new generations of students.
As difficult as it is to quantify, my sense is that medical education seems vastly more rigorous and traumatic for students today than it was for me, and possibly for the generations before me.