Impact of COVID-19 on Burnout in Clerkship Medical Students

Document Type : Short Communication


1 Baylor, Scott & White Health, Houston, TX, USA

2 Paul L Foster School of Medicine, Texas Tech Health Sciences Center El Paso, TX, USA

3 Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine. Nova Southeastern University, FL, USA


Burnout among physicians is more prevalent than other fields and begins as early as medical school. The aim of this study was to characterize the impact of COVID-19 on different aspects of burnout in third-year medical students at a minority-serving medical school at the U.S.-Mexico border. A Comparative study was conducted in 2022. Participants included those in the classes of 2019 through 2023. Data from the classes of 2019-2021 represented the period before COVID-19 curriculum changes and was compared to classes 2022-2023, which represented the period after the onset of COVID-19. The data on the classes of 2023 was compared between the two integrated rotation blocks to evaluate if non-COVID-related experiences might contribute to an increase in burnout in one block versus the other. Lastly, all data were compared to a general population sample to screen for the possibility of systemic deficiencies relative to other health professions. 
The Maslach Burnout Inventory Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS), which determines the scores for emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalization (DP), and personal accomplishment (PA), was administered to third-year medical students during their clinical rotations. 
Data were analyzed using a paired or unpaired t-test if they followed a normal distribution or the Mann-Whitney test if this was not the case. Scores for EE (P<0.0001), DP (P<0.0001), and PA (P=0.02) decreased after the onset of COVID-19. No statistically significant differences were found between the rotation blocks. However, when we compared the individual rotation blocks to the general population, the OBGYN/Pediatrics/Surgery blocks had a higher EE score (P=0.0003) than the Internal Medicine/Family Medicine/Psychiatry block. Before COVID-19, EE (P<0.01), DP (P<0.0001), and PA (P<0.05) appeared to be improved compared to the general population. After the onset of COVID-19, EE was less than the general population (P<0.0001). A broader assessment of burnout in medical students across the nation is warranted. Identification of specific COVID-19 influences and clerkship-related factors would prompt targeted actions to reduce burnout in this medical student population. Interventions are suggested to be designed to lessen the degree of burnout in clerkship students, possibly in other medical schools experiencing similar challenges.


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