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Academic Wellness

What is academic wellness?

  • According to many in the medical profession, the definition of wellness includes feeling challenged, and thriving.
  • At UMass Chan Medical School, we believe academic wellness derives from a supportive learning environment which permits students to develop knowledge and skills, while maintaining joy, empathy, and a sense of purpose. We believe that such a learning environment is built upon abundant resources for student learning, cultivation of a collaborative atmosphere among students, and a faculty which prioritizes student health and education.

What do we know about medical student burnout and resilience?

  • According to some studies, burnout affects up to 50% of medical students.
  • Burnout is characterized by feelings of “overwhelming exhaustion…cynicism…and lack of accomplishment.”
  • Causes of burnout in medical school:
    • Too much study with little balance
    • Lack of supportive relationships
    • Lack of time for recreation
    • Lack of belief in what you do
    • Consequences of medical student burnout:
      • Decreased empathy
      • Unprofessional conduct, and less altruistic professional values
      • Serious consideration of dropping out of medical school
      • Suicidal ideation
      • Medical student resilience is a term used to describe students who may be less vulnerable to burnout, or who may recover from burnout
      • Factors linked to increased student resilience:
        • Employment status
        • Stress level
        • Perceptions of the prioritizing of student education by faculty members
        • Positive mental health




What can we do to enhance your resilience and reduce burnout?

  • Create a supportive learning environment:
    • Pass-fail grading
    • Provide abundant resources for academic and emotional support
    • Cultivate emphasis on student health and learning among our faculty, by hiring and rewarding excellent and caring educators
    • We need you to tell us how best we can serve your academic needs, so be in touch!

What can you do to help enhance your resilience and reduce burnout?

  • Recognize signs of burnout in yourself, and seek help

What resources are available to me?

  • Center for Academic Achievement: Nearly 100% of UMass students schedule appointments with staff members at the Center for Academic Achievement during their time in medical school. Staff members help students troubleshoot academic issues, make comprehensive study schedules, and develop learning plans. Staff members accommodate student’s unique learning preferences, and provide academic and emotional support through difficult times. 
  • Learning Community Mentor: It may be helpful to reach out to your learning community mentor for help regarding issues of academic wellness such as workload stress or feelings of burnout.
  • Associate Dean, Student Affairs: Dr. Sonia Nagy Chimienti. Contact her admin to schedule an appointment at 508-856-5827. It may be helpful to reach out to Dr. Chimienti for help regarding issues of academic wellness such as workload stress or feelings of burnout.
  • Your course professors: It may be helpful to reach out to your course professors for help regarding issues of academic wellness such as workload stress or feelings of burnout.
  • Student Counseling Services: As many as 40% of UMass students make use of Student Counseling Services at some point during their time in medical school.
  • Step 1 911: This is a resource available to 2nd year medical students in the late fall. The program will be announced via email, as well as during one of your lectures. Through the program, students are anonymously matched with 4th year medical students, with whom they may communicate at any time. The idea is to provide a space for 2nd year students studying for the Step 1 exam to vent their concerns to other students who have been through the Step 1 experience. Ideally, students may gain access to an empathetic listening ear, as well as some pertinent advice about how to study well and stay healthy during the 2nd year of medical school.