A new study finds that more than half of med students experience burnout, which in turn leads them to engage in unprofessional behaviors when working with patients. The study was conducted by the Mayo Clinic and published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study found that stressed-out med students were unlikely to engage in academic dishonesty, but were prone to take short-cuts in patient care. “Although students recognize cheating and dishonest clinical behaviors as unprofessional, feel guilty about engaging in these behaviors and believe that the behaviors make them a less trustworthy physician, a relatively high prevalence of unprofessional conduct related to patient care was reported by students in this study,” wrote the authors.
Students suffering from burnout were more likely to act unprofessionally, like reporting that a physical examination was normal when in fact it had been skipped. “Students feel emotionally, physically and mentally worn down. They feel emotionally and mentally displaced from those around them. They are in survival mode,” said physician George Harris, a assistant dean and professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. “Fortunately, during the last year of medical school, most of them reconnect with their environment; and their underlying beliefs, values and attitudes re-establish themselves, and their altruistic views resurface.”
The study surveyed 2,682 medical students, from the following schools: