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Organisational flaws cause medical students’ burnout

Hyderabad: The burnout rate among medical students is as high as 45.2 per cent, according to a recent study published in JAMA. Organisational flaws and coping with medical education imparted by limited faculty are factors responsible for the burnout of medical students, junior doctors said. The burnout costs the healthcare system in terms of patient care, negligence and high levels of anxiety of doctors.

Dr P. Vijendra, a senior resident, explained, “The burnout is due to faulty administrative scheduling. Added to this, students are found to run between the college and coaching centres. This is leading to burnout among medical students.”The increase in seats in medical colleges without a proper increase in infrastructure and faculty has led to stress on teachers and students. 

A junior doctor explained, “There are 250 students in one class and there is only one teacher.  There are times when the teacher’s accent makes it difficult for us to understand what is being taught. We have to now rely on videos on the internet and go for coaching classes. We have to spend a large amount of time in self-learning as the lessons are not repeated again, but a vast portion has to be completed.”

Young medical students have to spend a considerable time in bedside practice. Many are found to skip it as they are preparing for post-graduate courses. This adds to pressure as learning is not completed.

Dr M. Imran, a senior post-graduate student said, “The system has become competitive but in doing so they are killing the basic practice. Those who skip this practice have further difficulty in the advanced practice of specialities.”

The study has found that doctors training in urology, neurology, emergency medicine, gynaecology and general surgery have higher burnout syndrome than others. Anxiety levels were also found to be high. Medical students were found to suffer from emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and also feeling low on personal accomplishments when compared to their peers in other professions.

There have been suggestions to improve infrastructure, increase faculty and stress on basic bedside practice, as this will go a long way in understanding the disease pattern.