What do medical students think about their quality of life? A qualitative study

BMC Med Educ. 2012 Nov 5;12:106. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-12-106.

Abstract

Background: Medical education can affect medical students' physical and mental health as well as their quality of life. The aim of this study was to assess medical students' perceptions of their quality of life and its relationship with medical education.

Methods: First- to sixth-year students from six Brazilian medical schools were interviewed using focus groups to explore what medical student's lives are like, factors related to increases and decreases of their quality of life during medical school, and how they deal with the difficulties in their training.

Results: Students reported a variety of difficulties and crises during medical school. Factors that were reported to decrease their quality of life included competition, unprepared teachers, excessive activities, and medical school schedules that demanded exclusive dedication. Contact with pain, death and suffering and harsh social realities influence their quality of life, as well as frustrations with the program and insecurity regarding their professional future. The scarcity of time for studying, leisure activities, relationships, and rest was considered the main factor of influence. Among factors that increase quality of life are good teachers, classes with good didactic approaches, active learning methodologies, contact with patients, and efficient time management. Students also reported that meaningful relationships with family members, friends, or teachers increase their quality of life.

Conclusion: Quality of teachers, curricula, healthy lifestyles related to eating habits, sleep, and physical activity modify medical students' quality of life. Lack of time due to medical school obligations was a major impact factor. Students affirm their quality of life is influenced by their medical school experiences, but they also reframe their difficulties, herein represented by their poor quality of life, understood as necessary and inherent to the process of becoming doctors.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Brazil
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Young Adult