Twenty years ago the term “medical student wellness” did not exist. Medical schools at that time weren’t that concerned about medical students living balanced lives. Things have changed dramatically since then. Now almost every medical school is cognizant of students’ wellbeing. Many medical schools encourage their students to incorporate physical activity, relaxation, social activities, mindfulness meditation, and other stress relievers into their lives as med students. Some medical schools have structured wellness programs, such as those at Vanderbilt, UCSF, Wake Forest, the University of Nevada, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Wisconsin, and Columbia, for example. In addition, some medical schools have mindfulness meditation programs for medical students. A recent study showed that 80% of US medical schools have incorporated some form of “mindfulness activity” into either research, wellness programs, clinical treatments for patients, or the curriculum. Brown, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Massachusetts, and Stanford offer such programs. Some schools offer yoga for med students; BU and Brown offer examples of this.
Many schools incorporate such programs to help med students ward off stress and burnout. A new program at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine incorporates wellness into the curriculum.It’s a positive development that schools are encouraging students to be mindful of balance and to learn how to relieve stress. Setting those habits now will reap rewards later and help med students relieve stress throughout their careers as physicians.
Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting