Medical EducationOriginal Article

The role of extracurricular activities and lectures in mitigating medical student burnout

Jennifer C. Sepede, DO; Joanna Petrides, MBS, PsyD; Philip B. Collins, DO; Meredith C. Jones, PhD; Nicole Cantor, MA; and Linda Boyd, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: December 9, 2020

Accepted: March 9, 2021

Published: April 23, 2021

  • Jennifer C. Sepede, DO, 

    Department of Family Medicine, School of Osteopathic Medicine, Rowan University, Stratford, NJ, USA

  • Joanna Petrides, MBS, PsyD, 

    Department of Psychology, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ, USA

  • Philip B. Collins, DO, 

    Department of Family Medicine, School of Osteopathic Medicine, Rowan University, Stratford, NJ, USA

  • Meredith C. Jones, PhD, 

    Department of Psychology, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ, USA

  • Nicole Cantor, MA, 

    Department of Psychology, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ, USA

  • Linda Boyd, DO, 

    Department of Family Medicine, School of Osteopathic Medicine, Rowan University, Stratford, NJ, USA

Abstract

Context: Strong evidence throughout the literature highlights burnout as a significant and increasing problem among medical students, impacting students’ ability to effectively care for and empathize with patients.

Objectives: To examine how involvement in extracurricular activities and attendance at burnout lectures can impact burnout among medical students.

Methods: An anonymous digital survey including the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) was sent to all students (n=765) at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. The survey included questions regarding the number of burnout/wellness lectures respondents had attended, the number of clubs in which the respondents participated, the number of hours spent in these clubs, and any leadership positions held by the respondents.

Results: Of the 765 students enrolled, 597 completed the survey. Results indicated that women participated in significantly more clubs than men (t[456]=−4.30; p<0.001). Men had higher scores on the depersonalization subscale of the MBI than women (t[463)=2.98; p<0.01]. There were no gender differences in emotional exhaustion or personal accomplishment. Linear regression analyses including gender and club participation as predictors of each of the burnout subscales indicated a significant interaction between gender and number of clubs (β=0.34; p<0.05), in that more club participation was associated with higher depersonalization scores for women, but lower depersonalization scores for men. The number of wellness/burnout prevention lectures attended was not predictive of scores on any of the burnout subscales.

Conclusions: Our results indicate the importance of understanding what drives burnout on the individual level and adapting interventions to suit the needs of individual students, rather than the student body as a whole.

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