Assessing the Relationship between Medical Students’ and Physicians’ Definitions of Success and Self-Perception of Burnout

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Introduction: An individual’s beliefs and values significantly impact their interactions and responses to life events. Little scholarship exists on how beliefs surrounding success may impact clinicians’ wellness. This study seeks to evaluate how physicians and medical students define success, and if this affects levels of satisfaction and burnout across groups.

Methods: Participants were administered a two-part survey consisting of (1) a freelisting interview and (2) brief follow-up questionnaire. The study was conducted via online video conference to assure spontaneous responses. Participants were a purposeful sampling of students and physicians at Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC) and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (TJUH). Main outcomes measured were words and phrases associated with success, which were then standardized into groups, as well as self-attribution of wellbeing.

Results: Sixteen surveys of SKMC students have been completed. The most common standardized word/phrase groups associated with success were “personal goals and emotions” (32% of total responses) and “security and leisure” (24%), while “career” (15%) and “altruism” (6%) were less common. On questions of wellbeing, subjects self-reported on average 8/10 for career satisfaction and 7.6/10 for personal life satisfaction, while burnout averaged 1.4/5, with responses being similar across academic years. Results are too preliminary to establish significance or association at present time.

Discussion: Preliminary results indicate that medical students place higher value in markers of personal and emotional success compared to social and professional roles. Self-reported rates of burnout were notably lower than those found in existing literature, indicating a possible self-selection bias. Next steps include administering physician surveys and conducting a complete data analysis for significant associations between the two participant groups.



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