Med students at high risk of burnout, suicide -

Med students at high risk of burnout, suicide

New studies shed light on problems afflicting doctors-to-be


Studies have shown for decades that physicians have higher rates of suicide than the general population (for male doctors, it’s 40 per cent higher; for female doctors, it’s 130 per cent), the New York Times reports. Contributing factors are unclear, but research has traced the roots of it back to medical school, where students enter with mental health profiles similar to their peers, but eventually experience depression, burnout and other mental illnesses at higher rates. They have better access to health care, but are more likely to cope by drinking excessively or other dysfunctional mechanisms. Despite student wellness programs and confidential mental health services now offered, up to one-quarter of doctors in training still suffer from depression and more than half might be feeling burnout, numbers that are relatively unchanged. Two new studies shed some light on it. In one survey of more than 2,500 medical students across the country, researchers found that students who suffered from burnout were more likely to admit cheating on tests, lying about the status of a patient’s lab tests or physical exams, and feeling less altruistic about their role as a physician. They were more susceptible to self-centred behaviour. The second study showed that medical students who are depressed, or prone to depression, often believe they’re viewed as inadequate or incompetent. More research is needed, all agree.

New York Times

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Med students at high risk of burnout, suicide

  1. The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada will be all over this story. No doubt.

    We might ask about the interface between psychology and medicine, but obviously it is not functioning very well.

    Psychiatry and medical students? When the psychiatry reading room at a major medical/doctoral university lies dormant–out of laziness, reliance on pharmaceuticals, and lack of imagination–then the consequences are easy to predict.

    In one major Canadian city, there is a small psychoanalytic institute distinct from the university. Why not fully incorporate it into the university routines–including helping with medical student stress?

    One improvement would be rational systems in the life sciences so as to form a better foundation in high school and undergraduate programs. For example, it is common to hear complaints that students in university biology cannot take good notes.

    • One improvement would be rational systems in the life sciences so as to form a better foundation in high school and undergraduate programs. For example, it is common to hear complaints that students in university biology cannot take good notes.Vancouver should initiate a pilot program so that one third of biology students in high school would be taking meticulous notes with the ASUS Netbook 1015PN, one third with Livescribe, and one third with the Moleskine one-page-per-day Diary. (Ambitious students could practise all three methods in different classes). Thirty percent of the year's mark would be based on the quality of note-taking, a critically important skill. In theory, AFMC could grasp how powerful this project would be. But it could not help implement it. The organization is so easily overpowered by inertia that it would be far better if it were dissolved.

      Chaotic fundamentals translate into depression. Many foreign students struggle with the vocabulary of the life sciences. Traditionally, one of the most absurd courses in university is terms of biology and medicine. A tribute to mechanism. Failure to link to texts such as the many excellent ones in cell, evolution, and genetics.

  2. You study night and day, and even still there is always more information that can be learned. And in some fields, you can pick and choose what relates to your job…but if you plan to go into primary care….EVERYTHING relates and effects something in one way or another. So you're always trying to learn everything. And with your limited sleep, your constant intake of information, you are prone to slip up on simple questions during the exam. When you slip up and receive low marks, it adds to your stress.

  3. English for students in biology and psychology: ludicrous. What is wrong with "101 Theory Drive," by Terry McDermott, as a text for life sciences students in their first-year English courses? Why do we have TOEFL and MCAT English? Nobody knows. Total inertia.

    Scientists cannot bring themselves to take language seriously. They always have to come up with something mechanistic such as the clicker. They are often actively dismissive of ideas to humanize medical education.

    If there is narrative medicine at Columbia, where is it getting traction–as opposed to lip service–in western Canada?

    Scientists and doctors often cannot understand the power of communication. The tipoff in Vancouver is to look in the window of the Broadway & Burrard Medical Clinic. As long as you see the paper files, you will grasp the failure of the government to implement electronic health records. Because it habitually throws away money on absurd compensation for incompetent elites. Because it had a project for such records, but went at it in such an incoherent way that it made a mess.

  4. In BC, there is such poor uptake of problematic issues that it would depress any rational doctor. If something arises–such as the Dvorak letter–then there is elaborate denial, the PR fix, refusal to comment, and back to the old routines.

    It follows a definite pattern: evidence emerges of chaos in diagnosis. Stories then get planted in the media: "cancer magic again." More magical discoveries.

    In fact, one of my best friends from the local mega-university is suffering from cancer because of a missed opportunity for diagnosis. You just can't keep papering over these issues and maintain any kind of credibility. It would be possible to search causes and ameliorate medical student depression. If the will existed. It does not.

    • "Stories then get planted in the media: "cancer magic again." More magical discoveries."

      In fact, its all you hear. Along with, more donations to the luxurious living fund!

      The Medical system and all other systems of health, aid and welfare have been taken over by the scammers.

      • Thankyou liminator…I knew it,,I knew it……It's been a conspiracy all along…….

        • Yes, well I have read the old history, so have seen where it developed into quite the sophisticated area by some of the more intelligent of the time who knew how to arrange a special niche in that society. Their influence in the government of that day, they were able to immediately implement a system of rules protecting their status. You see it in all of democracy!
          You can imagine, locking up a medical system at that time, with only about 5 procedures, all taken from Aborigines, such as blood letting, and chewing different items. Remember it took them 200 years to find the scurvy problem. And it really was found, first by the Iroquois and next by grade 7 dropout Captain Cook. But you know all this! Darn I ramble.
          And now, lol, computer programs are going to blow all hel out of their cozy establishments!

          • Yes I do have to agree, that you do indeed ramble, and I still do not understand what point your trying to make….but I am sure you will tell us.

  5. It is awkward posting at this fragile site. There should be a reasonable character limit, and the site should be completely redesigned.

    The issues as they arise, in medicine as in law, just get quietly buried. For example, MD 2014 makes a valuable comment about the pathological learning style in medicine. Now, as with other matters, you might think that the AFMC would be extremely alert to the matter and able to intervene in a psychologically acute way. The organization cannot at all. It is helpless. It should be fired and replaced by an independent and competent agency.

    Just on the grounds of how they are allowing this absurd learning style to fester in medicine, psychologists should hang their heads in shame.

  6. B/S

    • I see you diagree with my assessment of the situation. So you do not believe that it is stressful looking after people who are ill when your interventions can mean the difference between life and death? Or is it that you do not believe that this men and women work impossibly long hours studying a very complex human anatomy and physiology? That they are expected to keep up with new advancements in science in medicine and learn every illness and all the while develop an empathetic approach toward the people they are working for, while realizing that they will never always be successful and a certain number of their patients will die. Perhaps you just do not believe the report that they more often end up with depression and take their own lives.

      • Exactly. I see no sign of anything you mention. And have no Idea where you ever came up with such an imaginary poster. Better to do an investigation of this closed society. How many Children are pushed into this luxury field ( a LOT). What was the mental assessment before entering the field? (BAD). Does the Dr, I try to see, see 80 patients a day because of such concern for the patient or the cruise? Not all are like that of course. Probable 20% of Doctors are very good. But even so, in Canada, there is NO procedure to follow on diagnosis. 10 Patients with a diagnosis, can have 10 different medical procedures. In the United States if a heart attack patient comes in, you follow certain procedures, proved the best, or you don't get paid. There are no gods. Living in a Province such as NB, we get to hear a LOT through the grapevine!

        • My observations came from 15 years working in the field and interacting with colleagues. As for it being a "luxury field"…. residents often work 300 hours each month for very little money and residencies can last up to 5 years. This is after their years of study as a medical student. You should google exactly what the average Canadian family physician takes home after paying their office overhead. The people working in oil and gas are making ALOT more cash. As for diagnosing patients, physicians all over the world use the same criteria. Canadian doctors and nurses are so well educated and respected, they are actively recruited by the United States.

  7. The reality that we treat people training to be doctors as little more than slaves should be addressed at some point as well. The entire interning process is essentially the world's longest hazing ritual that often has less to do with producing quality doctors than it does with "that's the way it's always been done and if I had to go through it then I'm gonna make you do it too!!!"

  8. 18th century training gives us 18th century, medicine. Thank Allah for Computers. I just diagnosed high heart beat along with lower BP then normal! Can be very serious, but, being diabetic, too much Dulce, overloaded potassium.

  9. I agree whole heartedly. Margin of errors in this field is extremely slim. People come to you bearing only complaints and bad news. Patients generally do not come to give you good news unless the patient is mentally stable – which is more problematic than sad faces. And they do not usually phone to let you know how happy they are after getting better. Imagine going to office day to day only hearing complaints and seeing sickness and suffering faces. Something will definitely have to give. As for Canadian Doctors, there is not time left to study what treatments are efficient with less side effects. Life of a Canadian Doctor is harried and not rich as what others may think. They should lower the admission requirements for students who wish to take this field as there are only few doctors to service great demands.