Can mindfulness decrease burnout in medical school? Should you give it a try? Mindfulness may be an excellent tool to help students cope with the stress of clerkships.
Find information and other resources about stress management, mindfulness, financial support, and mental health education on our website. The Internet is full of resources to help you investigate.
In 2018, researchers at an unspecified urban, academic institution published a study showing that spending several weeks in mindfulness meditation training, followed by regular practice, is a worthwhile investment for clinical year medical students in terms your immediate and long-term wellness.
Chung Arlene S, Felber Rachel, Han Ethan, Mathew Tina, Rebillot Katie, Likourezos Antonios. A Targeted Mindfulness Curriculum for Medical Students During Their Emergency Medicine Clerkship Experience. West J Emerg Med. July 2018;19(4):762-766. doi:10.5811/westjem.2018.4.37018.
The researchers developed training in mindfulness meditation that fit into the 4-week time frame of an Emergency Medicine 4th year clerkship. Why EM? According to the 2018 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Depression Report, Emergency Medicine has one of the highest levels of burnout in practicing physicians.
Pekham C. Medscape National Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2018. MedScape. January 17, 2018.
In this study, fourth-year medical students completed an intensive program consisting of:
- weekly classroom sessions
- daily meditation and journaling
- developing a personalized wellness plan under the guidance of a mentor
After just 4-weeks of training, students meditated and practiced mindfulness. The researchers found that the students:
- experienced lasting changes that helped them better cope with stresses
- recommended mindfulness and meditation to others
- better appreciated the importance of wellness
- had more confidence in their use of mindfulness and meditation
And the effects proved to be long-lasting.
Give It A Try
If you are struggling as a result of stresses in your medical training and your institution offers mindfulness training, consider getting the training, especially if you plan to enter a specialty with a high rate of burnout (such as Emergency Medicine).
Given the high rate of alcohol use I described in Burnout -> Med Student Risky Alcohol Use & SI, it’s worth investigating a solution that will enhance your well-being and counter burnout.
Even if your medical school’s program has not integrated mindfulness training into your medical curriculum, it probably exists somewhere in the medical center – look around. Or ask that your medical school offer it, so it can fit into the already jam-packed curriculum. Our website. has more information and links to resources.