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  • Medical Students and Mental Health

    We’ve talked a lot about coping with stress on Wellness Wednesdays. The AAMC recently published an article that uses some startling numbers to give credence to our assumption that you all are stressed! They note that while the mental health profiles of students entering medical school are similar to those of college students, many end up dealing with a mental illness during their four years. To make things worse, the most depressed among us are the least likely to reach out for help given the stigma.

    Another factoid gleaned from a 2005 NEJM article was that the suicide rates among physicians is higher than the general population: 40% higher for males, and 130% higher for females.

    The AAMC highlights three medical schools that are countering this known phenomenon with school-wide curricular implementations from year one. Read on to find out what Creighton, St. Louis, and Vanderbilt University Schools of Medicine are doing as a service to their students. Could this work at your school?

    To hear more, join us next Monday for the first day of Health Equity Week of Action (HEWA). At noon on Monday, January 20th, Michael Kavan, PhD, will lead a webinar to discuss mental health ...

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  • Healthcare issues across the globe: Part II

    By Aliye Runyan, MD
    AMSA Education and Research Fellow


    The conversation surrounding professionalism was fascinating and brought to light a huge unmet need in global medical education. The speaker from the World Federation of Medical Education (WFME) spoke about tenets of professionalism: social accountability of the physician, training to take into account needs of the changing face of medicine, adaptability, training students to understand their global responsibility, and of the need for role models for students. Another speaker pointed out threats to professionalism, including commercialization of medicine, the role of pharmaceutical companies and industry, the deteriorating doctor-patient relationship, and that there are MANY medical schools with no formal curriculum on ethics and professionalism. She described attempts at some formalization, but also brought to light the issue that a lot of professionalism standards are from a Western cultural mindset, and do not take into account vastly different cultural standards from Latin America to India (two of the examples she used). She stressed that professionalism attributes must be integrated throughout medical school curricula and not just taught as a standalone course (as many in the US are).

    This brought to mind incredible potential for the IFMSA pre-departure training for clinical exchanges ...

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  • Work-Life Balance of Residents

    Aliye Runyan
    Chair, AMSA Medical Education Team
    The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

    I was recently talking to friend, who is an intern. She told me she didn't remember the last time she'd had a bite to eat. She'd been up for 16 hours. We talked about an article written by a classmate, also an intern, about the stress of his days. A fellow resident commented on it, something to the effect of "don't be weak, you haven't seen anything yet.”

    To some extent, this is the normalization/desensitization process that all residents must go through, in order to make it through the tough years of training, to be able to handle a full schedule with emergencies popping up at a moment's notice. This is understandable, it's what we go to med school for; it's what we train for.

    What is not understandable is how this aspect of the culture of medicine permeates to the very health and sanity of the physicians it trains. There is no honor in losing a grip on your own mental and physical well-being in the process of caring for your patients (which, as a resident, is less of that and more dealing with ...

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  • One small step for a current student, one giant leap for me

    Andrea Knittel
    AMSA Member
    6th Year MSTP
    University of Michigan

    Post #7 of the "Back to the Wards" series focusing on the transition from research years back to the medical school and clinical rotations.

    On Monday and Tuesday of this week, an incredibly gracious current M3 let me shadow him on the first two days of his inpatient pediatrics rotation. I would highly recommend this before returning from an extended absence, as it not only gives you a better sense of what will happen in the months to come, but gives the more advanced student a unique opportunity to demonstrate everything he/she has learned and to teach a newer student.

    The logistics: The MD/PhD program identified a willing volunteer who was on an inpatient pediatrics rotation this month, which is what I’ll be doing in either May or June, and put me in touch with him. I decided not to go to orientation, as I knew I’d get my own orientation soon enough, but met up with him following orientation before rounds started for the day. I only spent a few hours with the team on Monday, but I got a good sense of how the team works in the hospital, and when I showed up for pre-rounding on Tuesday, I got a real sense ...

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  • Depressed medical students worry about stigma

    This week, researchers from the University of Michigan reported that depressed medical students are extremely aware of the stigma associated with depression. The study, Depression, Stigma, and Suicidal Ideation in Medical Students, showed that 53.3 percent of medical students who reported high levels of depressive symptoms were worried that revealing their illness would be risky. Almost 62 percent of the same students said asking for help would mean the student's coping skills were inadequate.

    "If medical students are critical of each other about depression, how does that transfer to patients? We don't want the medical education experience to make them less tolerant of mental illness. Stigma seems to be lessening among the general public. But it is possible the medical professional is lagging behind," says Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., the lead author on the paper and the George A. Dean, M.D. Chair of U-M's Department of Family Medicine (University of Michigan Health System press release.) 

    "Somehow we have to change the environment in which we are teaching future physicians,” continued Dr. Schwenk.

    AMSA’s strategic commitment to humanism in medicine extends opportunities to physicians-in-training in the development of lifestyles that counter the deleterious effects of stress through creative ...

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