One in 12 post-grad medical students suffering from burnout


Those studying to be doctors are at high risk of burnout, according to a KU Leuven survey

Theory vs practice

It’s well known that doctors are at risk of burnout, and now a University of Leuven researcher has shown that medical students are equally at risk. According to research by Zahra Atrtchine-Kachi, one in 12 medical students in Flanders’ five universities – or 8.5% – is currently suffering from a full-fledged burnout.

Atrtchine-Kachi, who conducted the study as part of her master’s thesis, sent out a questionnaire to all 478 medical students following two-year post-graduate specialisations. The training involves both education and workplace practice.

During specialisation studies, students have to work, take exams and write a thesis. “In theory, there’s a limit to the number of hours a student is allowed to work,” says Atrtchine-Kachi, “but in practice, this balance is lost. Work hours peak, and many students even say goodbye to individual supervision.”

Other results from the study are equally alarming. One in three specialisation students runs the risk of burning out, while 14% say they are depressed, nervous or anxious.

Photo: Rob Stevens/KU Leuven