Relationships between medical student burnout, empathy, and professionalism climate

Acad Med. 2010 Oct;85(10 Suppl):S33-6. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181ed4c47.


Background: Medical student burnout is prevalent, and there has been much discussion about burnout and professionalism in medical education and the clinical learning environment. Yet, few studies have attempted to explore relationships between those issues using validated instruments.

Method: Medical students were surveyed at the beginning of their fourth year using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy-Student Version, and the Professionalism Climate Instrument. The data were analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, and Spearman correlation analysis was performed.

Results: Scores indicative of higher medical student burnout were associated with lower medical student empathy scores and with lower professionalism climate scores observed in medical students, residents, and faculty.

Conclusions: Investigators observed relationships between medical student burnout, empathy, and professionalism climate. These findings may have implications for the design of curriculum interventions to promote student well-being and professionalism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Professional Practice*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*