Addressing Student Burnout: What Medical Schools Can Learn From Business Schools

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Abstract

Although they enter school with enthusiasm for a career in medicine, medical students in the United States subsequently report high levels of burnout and disillusionment. As medical school leaders consider how to address this problem, they can look to business schools as one source of inspiration. In this Invited Commentary, the authors argue—based on their collective experience in both medical and business education—that medical schools can draw three lessons from business schools that can help reinvigorate students. First, medical schools should offer more opportunities and dedicated time for creative work. Engaging with diverse challenges promotes intellectual curiosity and can help students maintain perspective. Second, schools should provide more explicit training in resiliency and the management of stressful situations. Many business programs include formal training in how to cope with conflict and how to make high-stakes decisions, whereas medical students are typically expected to learn those skills on the job. Finally, medical schools should provide better guidance on practical career considerations like income, lifestyle, and financial skills. Whether in medicine or business, students benefit from open discussions about their personal and professional goals. Medical schools must ensure that students have an outlet for those conversations.

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