Introduction: Despite high rates of burnout in senior medical students, many schools provide the majority of their wellness training during the first and second preclinical years. Students planning a career in emergency medicine (EM) may be at particularly high risk of burnout, given that EM has one of the highest burnout rates of all the specialties in the United States We developed an innovative, mindfulness-based curriculum designed to be integrated into a standard EM clerkship for senior medical students to help students manage stress and reduce their risk of burnout.
Methods: The curriculum included these components: (1) four, once-weekly, 60-minute classroom sessions; (2) prerequisite reading assignments; (3) individual daily meditation practice and journaling; and (4) the development of a personalized wellness plan with the help of a mentor. The design was based on self-directed learning theory and focused on building relatedness, competence, and autonomy to help cultivate mindfulness.
Results: Thirty students participated in the curriculum; 20 were included in the final analysis. Each student completed surveys prior to, immediately after, and six months after participation in the curriculum. We found significant changes in the self-reported behaviors and attitudes of the students immediately following participation in the curriculum, which were sustained up to six months later.
Conclusion: Although this was a pilot study, our pilot curriculum had a significantly sustained self-reported behavioral impact on our students. In the future, this intervention could easily be adapted for any four-week rotation during medical school to reduce burnout and increase physician wellness.