As a beneficiary of the old curriculum, I’m intrigued to read about the new curriculum [Yale Medicine, Autumn 2016]. I particularly applaud a unique clerkship innovation that pairs psychiatry with primary care, given the trend to integrate psychiatrists into primary care settings.
However, there is one new challenge that was not mentioned—burnout among medical students. Burnout in medical students by the third and fourth year reaches the epidemic rate of 50 percent or higher, according to studies, and 50 percent or higher in residents and physicians in practice.
Perhaps Yale and other medical schools changing their curricula assume that a new curriculum will reduce medical student burnout. Perhaps it will. But even so, medical students will not know what they may do to reduce their burnout in residency and thereafter. Addressing that has been my major advocacy focus in retirement. That would include formal wellness programs as well as helping medical students to take the time to do what they love, with whom they love, outside of work. Since burnout correlates with more medical mistakes and poorer outcomes, the well-being of both physicians and our patients depends on these programs. Besides that, our leaders in medicine must advocate for our systems to change to ones that will give physicians enough empowerment and time to do what we know we can to help patients.
H. Steven Moffic, M.D. ’71