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Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Student Wellness Program

By Tracy Lee, OMS II
A.T. Still University-SOMA
Wellness Coordinator
AMSA Trainee Wellness and Professionalism Committee

Welcome to Wellness Wednesdays!

We will have a blog post every other week. The blog post at the first of the month will be informative topics about wellness and different wellness tips. The 2nd blog post of the month will be during the 3rd week of the month and it is purposed to answer any question you have from the last blog post. Please post your comments and questions below!

“The Wellness Program is a student-run initiative composed of five committees, each supporting a different area of student well-being - physical, emotional/spiritual, interpersonal, academic/professional, and environmental/community. Throughout the year, each Wellness Committee is responsible for supporting student life through various program events and resources for medical students.”  - Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Student Wellness Program

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Student Wellness Program is one of the leaders in promoting medical student wellness. Their program was among the first wellness programs started more than 10 years ago run by students to help their peers deal with transitioning into medical school and dealing with the stress of being a medical student. In general, burnout is very prevalent in medical students. In a literature review of major US studies from 1974 to 2011, the authors found that at least half of all medical students experience burnout sometime during their medical education. This burnout can carry into residency and in practice, which is not good for the students and their patients. In addition, there is a decline in empathy as medical students go from being a 2nd year to being a 3rd year starting their clinical rotations. Medical students forget why they entered medical school in the beginning. There are many factors that can lead to burnt out and depressed medical students, which a blog post on KevinMD outlines. Burnt out students and students who lose sight of their empathy and altruism have been shown to make more errors and show unprofessional behavior.

However, the Vanderbilt Wellness Program tries to mitigate those factors by having a student run committee that supports a different area of student well-being, including physical, emotional/ spiritual, interpersonal, academic/ professional, and environmental/ community. They provide programing and resources to improve their well-being. A New York Times article compares Vanderbilt to Hogwarts in that they have “colleges” that each student is randomly assigned to and each college participates in different creative competitions, such as an “Iron Chef”-style-cooking competition. In addition, they also have yoga classes, community service events, a mentoring program, and “class guides” for different class subjects, clinical rotations, residency applications, and incoming students. Having these resources and programming helps the students stay sane and stay encouraged to serve their patients.

If you would like know more about the Vanderbilt Wellness program, click here.

Does your school have a wellness program or any kind of programming to help students at your school avoid burnout?

If yes, comment about what kind of program your has and if you feel it is effective or not. If not, maybe you can suggest a similar program to your school!

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