It’s as important to be proactive as it is to be reactive. Engaging in regular check-ins with our students about self-care and workload, as well as asking about how they are feeling, can offer them opportunities to talk about issues that they might not be getting anywhere else. One medical student I worked with told me, “It’s easy to fade into the background as the student, or to feel like I can’t complain because this is just how medical school is supposed to be.” We have the ability to change this notion with each student we work with.
It is likely that as residents we have worked with a student struggling with burnout without even realizing it. I believe we can play an important role in helping to prevent burnout by identifying at-risk students, offering assistance, and encouraging them to seek professional help. Someone’s life may depend on it.