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New Study: 23% of Medical Students Feel Mistreated in Learning Environment

Oct 28, 2021, 18:23 PM by MSDC Staff
The JAMA Network Open study suggests medical schools proactively promoting positive student-faculty mentoring could prevent medical student burnout.


According to a study published in the JAMA Network Open and an article by the American Medical Association, medical burnout is beginning in medical school due to perceived mistreatment of students. You can see the study here and the article here.

The study is based on data collected between 2014 and 2016 from more than 14,000 students between their second and fourth year of medical school. The headline statistic is 23% of respondents reported feeling mistreated during this time period, with half reporting one mistreatment incidence and the other half reporting multiple incidences. Those reporting mistreatment had higher burnout and exhaustion scoring on the survey, regardless of gender, while the majority reporting no mistreatment scored lower.

The study concludes with the following thoughts on the data: 

Although the most effective approaches to addressing mistreatment of learners remain elusive, the frequency of mistreatment varies between educational programs, suggesting there are likely to be levers within the control of the organization that adequate commitment, leadership, infrastructure, resources, and accountability can lead to a meaningful reduction in mistreatment... Our study further suggests that lower stress levels at the beginning of year 2 of medical school may lessen the gravity of burnout symptoms during the clinical years. Furthermore, our finding that student-faculty interactions related to subsequent levels of empathy suggests that innovations to bolster empathy among medical students should go beyond communication skills training and other curricular approaches to include faculty development and improvement in system-level factors that hinder faculty prioritizing medical students’ education.