80% of DO students report low sense of personal achievement

Most osteopathic medical students — a whopping 80 percent — reported a low sense of personal achievement in a recent study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Researchers conducted an electronic survey of 385 osteopathic medical students to better understand their levels of burnout, perceived stress, sleep quality and smartphone use. To evaluate levels of burnout, they used the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey, which measures burnout across three dimensions: a sense of personal achievement, emotional exhaustion and depersonalization.

Emotional exhaustion (2.3 percent) and depersonalization (17 percent) were relatively less common among students than having a low sense of personal achievement. The study authors believe this lack of confidence in achievement among students may be due to the evolving nature of work in medical schools from year to year, which can make it difficult to acclimate.

"That 80 percent feel a low sense of achievement is a bit ironic, considering that these are all high-performing individuals," said lead author Elizabeth Beverly, PhD, associate professor of family medicine at Athens-based Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, in a press release. "However, it also makes sense in that they have gone from an environment where they were standouts to one where they are now on an equal academic playing field."

The study also indicates most osteopathic students perceived their stress as moderate to low, yet 66.2 percent met criteria for poor sleep quality. Poor sleep was associated with smartphone addiction, which was detected among more than 22 percent of the students surveyed.

The researchers are interested in learning more about how smartphone addiction may affect the mental health of medical students.

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