Reducing Burnout

In an article recently published in Nature, titled “What medicine can teach academia about preventing burnout,” University of Minnesota medical student Erik Faber examines the concept of academic burnout and offers several suggestions in which graduate programs can help students combat it.

“We realized there is an old and new point of view regarding burnout,” said Faber, who is also a PhD student conducting research in the School of Pharmacy’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry. “Some might think it is just ‘par for the course’ but there are others who are committed to the new way of thinking that promotes well-being and prevents burnout.”

In the article, Faber and his co-author Yoo Jung Kim, a medical student and research fellow at Stanford University in California, write that stress is common for students in both medical and scientific training, despite the difference in the fields.

Faber’s and Kim’s suggestions for preventing burnout include:

  1. Enable time away from the lab.
  2. Create external incentives and validation.
  3. Connect graduate students with the public.
  4. Expose students to non-academic job opportunities.
  5. Facilitate research into graduate-student wellness.

Faber said the suggestions are not universal, or ‘one size fits all,’ but rather guidelines they hope can be used and adapted in many different atmospheres and situations for students.  

“The University of Minnesota Medical School is doing a lot to help students with burnout already,” said Faber. “I hope this soon becomes something we don’t even think about doing, it is just implemented everywhere.”

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