Mens sana in corpore sano: Student Well-being and the Development of Resilience 

This month’s journal club post references a Medical Education article:  Mens sana in corpore sana: Student Well-Being and the Development of Resilience by Diana F. Wood

We’ve all heard the seasoned attending lamenting the modern era of work-hour restrictions and 24 hour attending support in comparison to their training wild wild west. For decades, residents learned medicine through a baptism by fire, with those trained in the era recounting 100+ hour work weeks, unsupervised paracenteses in the ED with nothing more than an EKG probe and an LP needle, and shifts long enough to make a stretcher in the corner look more comfortable than the penthouse suite of a Hilton. Much like military boot-camp, many survivors of this antiquated training herald it as the only way to develop the resiliency needed to become an exceptional physician. However, as study after study has shown, this resilience (if truly gained) comes at a high price to patients and trainees alike.

Yet in the modern world of elongated terms of parental support and petting zoos to alleviate student’s stress, is it possible that well-intended institutional support has crippled the development of resilience and may even counterintuitively be contributing to physician burn-out? Studies show that medical students, particularly males, continue to show signs of burnout manifested in depression, reduced empathy, and changed attitudes toward palliative care and cadaveric dissection.

  1. How can students be taught resilience without compromising patient safety or contributing to burnout?
  2. What, if any, unique attributes did physicians learn prior to work-hour restrictions?
  3. What, if any, unique attributes do physicians learn now after emplacement of work-hour restrictions
  4. Are there any forms of resident/medical student support which may be deleterious to the development of resilience?


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15. Barclay S, Whyte R, Thiemann P, Benson J, Wood DF, Parker RA, Quince T. An important but stressful part of their future work: medical students’ attitudes to palliative care throughout their course. J Pain Symptom Manage 2015;49:231–42.
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