Burnout is a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and impaired personal accomplishment induced by repeated workplace stressors. Current research suggests that physician burnout may have its origins in medical school. The consequences of medical student burnout include both personal and professional distress, loss of empathy, and poor health. We hypothesized that burnout occurs prior to the initiation of the clinical years of medical education. This was a cross-sectional survey administered to thirdyear medical students at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM) in New York, New York (a traditional-style medical school with a marked division between pre-clinical and clinical training occurring at the beginning of the third year). Survey included an instrument used to measure job burnout, a sleep deprivation screen, and questions related to demographic information, current rotation, psychiatric history, time spent working/studying, participation in extracurricular activities, social support network, autonomy and isolation. Of the 86 medical students who participated, 71% met criteria for burnout. Burnt out students were significantly more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation (p=0.0359). They were also more likely to disagree with the following statements: "I have control over my daily schedule" (p=0.0286) and "I am confident that I will have the knowledge and skills necessary to become an intern when I graduate" (p=0.0263). Our findings show that burnout is present at the beginning of the third year of medical school, prior to the initiation of the clinical years of medical training. Medical student burnout is quite common, and early efforts should be made to empower medical students to both build the knowledge and skills necessary to become capable physicians, as well as withstand the emotional, mental, and physical challenges inherent to medical school.
- medical education
- medical student