Extracurricular Humanism in Medicine Initiative and Medical Student Wellness: Retrospective Study

JMIR Form Res. 2022 Sep 16;6(9):e37252. doi: 10.2196/37252.


Background: Humanism in Medicine Initiative (HIMI), an extracurricular program at Ohio State University College of Medicine (OSUCOM) with 27 subgroups, fosters the humanities. Stress and burnout among first- and second-year medical students are prevalent across the United States. Solutions for stress among first- and second-year medical students have been proposed, but no gold standard exists. The relationship of humanism with stress and burnout has yet to be described in the literature.

Objective: This study investigates the relationship between participation in the HIMI and stress, burnout, and academic success among first- and second-year medical students.

Methods: First- and second-year medical students enrolled at OSUCOM between August 2018 and August 2019 were recruited. Attendance in the HIMI and membership records were used to measure their participation. Curricular examination scores and those on Step 1 of United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) were used to measure academic success. Stress and burnout were measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the Perceived Stress Scale.

Results: In total, 412 students were enrolled with 362 (87%) students participating in HIMI. Those with high participation were more often Black, Asian, female, or with a humanities undergraduate major compared to the overall study population. There were significant relationships between Gold Humanism Honors Society (GHHS) induction and participation of first- and second-year medical students in service- (χ21=5.8, P<.05) or leadership-focused (χ21=19.3, P<.001) HIMI groups. Medium levels of participation in the HIMI were associated with significantly higher stress. Performance on the Step 1 USMLE was not significantly associated with participation levels in the HIMI (low=233.7 vs high=238.0; P=.10).

Conclusions: The HIMI is an extracurricular program vastly utilized by first- and second-year medical students at OSUCOM and did not impact Step 1 USMLE scores. Medium participation in the HIMI was associated with higher stress, and service- and leadership-focused HIMI participation was associated with a higher level of induction to the GHHS. This study identifies areas for future studies to understand the relationship of the HIMI with stress and academic success.

Keywords: academic success; burnout; extracurricular; humanism; medical student; stress; student; wellness.