[Burnout in students of health-care professions. Risk and protection factors]

Rev Med Chil. 2019 Apr;147(4):510-517. doi: 10.4067/S0034-98872019000400510.
[Article in Spanish]


Background: The burnout syndrome affects more than half of students and professionals involved in healthcare worldwide and is characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a low perception of self-efficacy. Several studies indicate that when students are burnt-out, clinical work, professionalism and ethical behavior, as well as empathy, are negatively affected, while the risk of academic attrition, depression and suicidal ideation tend to increase. At a national level, recent information shows that one out of every two medical students suffer burnout at the beginning of the clinical cycle, a situation that does not improve after finishing undergraduate medical training. There is no consensus on which are the most appropriate strategies to face the problem of burnout in students and health-care professionals. Some studies indicate that the experience of medical and health educators may be key to the design of effective strategies to address this problem.

Aim: To identify the burnout risk and protection factors of students at different medical schools.

Material and methods: In this study -in which 34 expert health educators from eight Chilean medical schools and other health-related schools participated- we used a qualitative methodology based on the appreciative inquiry to explore the key elements associated with the occurrence of burnout, identify protective and risk factors, as well as discuss possible effective interventions to prevent it.

Results: There are personal, academic and contextual elements that act as protective or risk factors of burnout. In addition, the educators identified key elements to design organizational and curricular interventions to face the problem of burnout at a local level.

Conclusions: Burnout is a serious problem in the formation of health care professionals. Teacher training aimed at promoting student'well-being must include the teaching of communication skills that consider both the generation gap and the profile of the professional medical schools intend to form.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / etiology*
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control*
  • Chile
  • Humans
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools, Medical
  • Self Care
  • Students, Health Occupations / psychology*