UNMC offers students an elective to help them battle the stress.
A 2008 study by the Mayo Clinic found that 50 percent of medical students experience burnout and 10 percent experience suicidal ideation. In an effort to improve these sobering statistics, a UNMC Psychiatry elective, “Stress Reduction Techniques for the Practicing Clinician” exposes students to stress reduction techniques that are currently used in mental health and can be used in a variety of medical settings. Some of the practices include meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback as well as breathing, and movement. Students are given techniques to handle stress and hopefully utilize these techniques for their own personal stress reduction and introduce the techniques to future patients.
Fourth-year medical student Noah Hammond said before starting medical school four years ago little about studying bothered him.
“I used to be easy-going, but over the last three years, I haven’t done a good job of letting things go,” Hammond said.
This summer, Hammond registered for the stress reduction elective.
“It’s really helped. I’m surprised. If you would have suggested to me during my first year (at UNMC) that I would meditate or write, I would have laughed at you and not done it, and asked, ‘Why are you making me do it? I don’t want to do this. I should be studying right now.’ But if I could go back and tell my first-year self about this, I would have convinced him to do it,” Hammond said.
Fourth-year medical student Nick Anggelis came from a family of physicians. His parents are doctors in Kentucky.
“I’ve seen the effects that medicine can have on people. It’s a great field but at the same time it can bog you down at times.”
When Anggelis asked his dad if he should take the elective, his father highly recommended it. Anggelis said the class provided stress reduction techniques, which Anggelis said helps him deal with the stress of medical school.
“You feel great when you start (medical) school. Everything’s new and you have such a wonderful sense of accomplishment just getting into the program. But the newness wears off quickly, and then you aren’t treated like a baby anymore. It’s tough. It’s really too bad that this glass happens in your fourth year. It should happen in your first year. It’s disappointing that just now I’m learning these tools. I could have used them in my first year. They would be very useful at an earlier stage,” Anggelis said.
The elective was developed by Dr. Brent Khan. Dr. Steven Wengel has assisted Dr. Khan with the stress management elective since its inception, and now additional faculty members for the course include Dr. Byers “Bud” Shaw and Dr. Jonathon Sikorski.