Original Article

Burnout in Medical Students: Examining the Prevalence and Associated Factors

Authors: Sally A. Santen, MD, PhD, Danielle B. Holt, MD, Jean D. Kemp, MD, Robin R. Hemphill, MD, MPH


Objective: Burnout has been described as a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and decreased personal accomplishment, and may originate during medical school. The objective of this study is to determine the prevalence of burnout and contributing factors in medical students.

Methods: A survey was administered to 249 medical students using a modified Maslach Burnout Inventory Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS) and scales of stressors, assessment of workload, relaxation, control, accomplishment, support systems, and demographics.

Results: Moderate or high degree of burnout was seen in 21% of the first year class, 41% of the second year class, 43% of the third year class, and 31% of the fourth year class (P < 0.05). Lower support, higher stress, and lack of control over one's life were significantly related to burnout using multivariate analysis.

Conclusions: Burnout progressively develops over the course of medical education, while a high level of support and low stress decreased burnout.

Key Points

* Burnout is characterized by high emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and low personal accomplishment.

* Burnout peaks in the third year of medical school, with 42% of third year students experiencing burnout.

* Increased stress, lack of control, and low accomplishment contribute to the development of burnout.

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