JAMA on Medical Education

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published its recent issue on medical education. I haven’t read everything yet but the one interesting article to me was “Relationship Between Burnout and Professional Conduct and Attitudes Among US Medical Students.”

Burning out is an issue that I, as well as many of my classmates and friends in med schools across the country, have been exploring. How and why do med students and doctors, who come in with supposedly such good and noble intentions, often burnout and become jaded? There’s the usual explanation of “there’s too much to do” and “blame the healthcare system,” but why do some people burnout and others don’t? And what are some good ways to deal with becoming burned out or “compassion fatigued”?

The article in JAMA doesn’t answer these questions unfortunately but it does point to the consequences of physician burnout. By surveying 7 US medical schools, the report found that people who burnout usually have a higher rate of cheating/dishonest clinical behavior, unprofessional conduct, and less altruism. The survey also pointed out that these individuals were less likely to want to provide care for the medically underserved.

I don’t think JAMA is saying anything especially profound, but it does highlight a sense of urgency that we need to find a way to help people not become burned out or deal with it better. I think that if I am able to keep writing in my blog regularly for many years to come, it’ll be interesting to see the different phases that I go through and how I will eventually deal with feelings of burnout and jadedness.

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