Medical students typically come into their first year energized and upbeat – then what happens over the next 3 years? That’s what a group of researchers from SUNY Upstate Medical University investigated in a study last year.

What Did They Find?

Students at SUNY Upstate completed a mandatory annual survey at the end of their 1st and 3rd academic year that included the modified Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) depression screening instrument.

  • Almost 3 out of 10 students had possible depression in both years
  • MS3 emotional exhaustion and depersonalization scores on the Maslach Burnout Inventory were 2 points higher and personal accomplishment scores were 2 points lower in comparison to MS1s
  • MS3s had higher regrets about entering medicine in comparison to their younger counterparts

For many medical students, as well as the family, friends, and significant others that support them, this is not a surprise. But how can this be? What is going wrong?

Apparently, rather than being inspired by the potential of becoming a physician and a healer, students are weighed down by the pressures of medical school as their training progresses. Unfortunately, this problem does not magically go away once students become practicing physicians. We need to understand and address burnout during training and beyond in order to change this.

Let’s Fix this Problem

We’re working to better understand the cause, and more importantly find a solution, at both personal and institutional levels.  Burnout has multiple causes, some of which are under the student’s control, but some solutions require changes on the part of institutions. We need to figure out which is which.

Get Involved

We need your input and help as we develop our solutions. Visit our website and see what we are up to so we can reverse the disturbing pattern seen in the above study of MS1s and MS3s.


Reference: Elkins Cinthia, Plante Kyle P, Germain Lauren J, Morley Christopher P. Burnout and Depression in MS1 and MS3 Years: A Comparison of Cohorts at One Medical SchoolFam Med. June 2017;49(6):456-459.