Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP 2008 Atlanta Meeting

Poster Presentation:

A longitudinal study of the associations between personal growth and burnout syndrome in third-year medical students

John M Kunzer, Gilbert C Liu, Mary A Bell, and Mitchell A Harris
Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis

Objective: Investigate relationships between personal growth and burnout syndrome among third-year medical students. Burnout is related to suboptimal patient care and decreases in professionalism. Alternatively, personal growth is associated with physician well-being and may counteract the stressors encountered during medical training. 
Methods: This cross-sectional study uses two validated instruments: the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the Personal Growth Scale. The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) measures burnout in three domains: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of personal accomplishment.   Burnout is defined as a high score on the emotional exhaustion or depersonalization domains. The Personal Growth Scale (PGS) assesses self assurance and sensitivity to self and others. The PGS score indicates low or high personal growth. The two surveys were administered to third year medical students at the Indiana University School of Medicine (n=279) at the beginning (June 2007) and end (Time 2: October 2007) of their first “block” of 3rd year clinical rotations (i.e. Medicine/Psychiatry/Neurology vs. Pediatrics/Family Practice/Elective vs Surgery/OB-GYN/Surgical Specialty).  
Multiple logistic regression was conducted to model relationships between PGS score and burnout at Time 2; the analyses adjusted for age, gender, marital & parental status, race, rotation “block”, USMLE Step 1 score, career preference, and academic standing.
Results:   Of those who provided informed consent (n=242); 46% were female, 71% were single, 5% were parents, the mean age was 26 ± 3y (min 19y, max 46y), and 81% were white. At the beginning of third year, the prevalence of burnout was 19% and high personal growth was 43%.   After the first “block” of rotations, the prevalence of burnout was 43% and high personal growth was 47%.   High personal growth at the beginning of third year was protective against burnout at Time 2 (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.21 to 0.85). None of the co-variates were significantly associated (p<.05) with burnout at Time 2.

Conclusions: Interventions to address burnout should promote the development of personal growth in medical trainees and should be applied broadly given the lack of significance of co-variates.