It is a well documented, yet largely ignored fact that physicians, residents and medical students are experiencing a pandemic of depression, burnout, dissatisfaction, and suicide. The principal cause may be the institution of medicine, which is slow to change, abusive, and dismissive of these complaints. While interventions are necessary at all levels of training, medical students may be the most in need as their mental health is the poorest of these groups.
Emotion-focused coping activities focus on alleviating stress. The humanities can function as emotion-focused coping activities, and exposure to them in medical education has been correlated with higher empathy and self-efficacy and inversely correlated with components of burnout. I hypothesize that more engagement with passions outside of medicine will help medical students give attention to each identity they possess, thus improving mental health and resulting in happier, healthier, and more well-rounded physicians capable of connecting to their patients more deeply.
In order to explore this hypothesis I began directing, writing, and producing a documentary film capturing the stories of medical students who have a profound connection to an activity outside of medicine. The interviews demonstrate that these passions have relieved stress, significantly molded these students, and given them a skillset and perspective that will ultimately make them more humanistic and capable physicians. These intimate success stories will hopefully inspire other medical students to reconnect with a passion they have left behind in medical school, or to pursue a new talent.
Emhoff, Ryan, "Medice, Cura Te Ipsum (Physician, Heal Thyself): A Documentary Film Exploring How the Passions of Medical Students Will Make Them Better and Healthier Physicians" (2019). SKMC JeffMD Scholarly Inquiry, Phase 1, Project 1.