Medical School Strategies to Address Student Well-Being: A National Survey

Acad Med. 2019 Jun;94(6):861-868. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002611.


Purpose: To describe the breadth of strategies U.S. medical schools use to promote medical student well-being.

Method: In October 2016, 32 U.S. medical schools were surveyed about their student well-being initiatives, resources, and infrastructure; grading in preclinical courses; and learning communities.

Results: Twenty-seven schools (84%) responded. Sixteen (59%) had a student well-being curriculum, with content scheduled during regular curricular hours at most (13/16; 81%). These sessions were held at least monthly (12/16; 75%), and there was a combination of optional and mandatory attendance (9/16; 56%). Most responding schools offered a variety of emotional/spiritual, physical, financial, and social well-being activities. Nearly one-quarter had a specific well-being competency (6/27; 22%). Most schools relied on participation rates (26/27; 96%) and student satisfaction (22/27; 81%) to evaluate effectiveness. Sixteen (59%) assessed student well-being from survey data, and 7 (26%) offered students access to self-assessment tools. Other common elements included an individual dedicated to overseeing student well-being (22/27; 82%), a student well-being committee (22/27; 82%), pass/fail grading in preclinical courses (20/27; 74%), and the presence of learning communities (22/27; 81%).

Conclusions: Schools have implemented a broad range of well-being curricula and activities intended to promote self-care, reduce stress, and build social support for medical students, with variable resources, infrastructure, and evaluation. Implementing dedicated well-being competencies and rigorously evaluating their impact would help ensure appropriate allocation of time and resources and determine if well-being strategies are making a difference. Strengthening evaluation is an important next step in alleviating learner distress and ultimately improving student well-being.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • School Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires