Impact of a Mentorship Program on Medical Student Burnout

AEM Educ Train. 2019 May 23;3(3):218-225. doi: 10.1002/aet2.10354. eCollection 2019 Jul.


Background: Burnout can have negative consequences for providers' health and patient care. Mentorship has positive effects including stress mitigation. We sought to evaluate the impact of a mentorship program on burnout in fourth-year medical students during their 4-week emergency medicine subinternship.

Methods: This was a prospective, quasi-experimental, mixed-methods study at two institutions. We assessed burnout using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, comprising three subscales: Emotional Exhaustion (EE), Depersonalization (DP), and Personal Accomplishment (PA). We compared changes in burnout scores before and after implementation of a resident-student mentorship program. We compared categorical variables using risk ratios and continuous variables using Wilcoxon rank-sum test. To account for potential confounders, we performed multivariable analysis. Students and mentors completed an evaluative survey. We reported descriptive statistics and performed thematic qualitative analysis on free-response data.

Results: A total of 135 students (intervention = 51; control = 84) and 59 mentors participated. Intervention students demonstrated decreased EE and DP and increased PA scores, medians of -2 (-4 to 4), -1 (-3 to 2), and 1 (-1 to 4), respectively, compared to controls, median difference of 0 for all subscales. After adjusting for potential confounders, there was no significant difference in EE (mean difference = -0.2 [-0.5 to 0.2], p = 0.4) or DP scores (mean difference = -0.2 [-1.8 to 1.5], p = 0.9). There was a significant difference in PA scores (mean difference = 2.2 [0.1 to 4.3], p = 0.04). Most students felt the program positively impacted their rotation (39/48) and decreased stress (28/48). Students felt that the program provided career guidance and positively impacted their personal and professional development. The majority (34/37) of mentors enjoyed participating. Qualitative analysis revealed five major themes: relationship building, different perspective, knowledge sharing, personal fulfillment, and self-reflection.

Conclusion: We found an increased sense of personal accomplishment after implementation of a mentorship program. Both mentors and mentees viewed the program positively and perceived multiple benefits.