Compared with students from other Dutch universities, medical students at EUR are most likely to suffer burn-outs or associated symptoms. This is revealed by research conducted by De Geneeskundestudent, the national association for medical students. The research analyses how many medical students are plagued by a burn-out or similar problems.

As many as 53 percent of medical students in Rotterdam suffer from a burn-out or certain symptoms which are often associated with a burn-out. That’s just slightly more than the number two ranked University of Amsterdam: 43.5 percent.

The associated symptoms are the ones which occur most frequently in Rotterdam: 35.2 percent of medical students suffer from emotional exhaustion (lack of energy, the main feature of a burn-out) or mental distance (a cynical, distant and offhand attitude towards your own work).

Among 17.8 percent of all students, this actually develops into a burn-out. According to the researchers, this is caused by too few protective factors and too many triggering factors (see box).

A lot of protection

If you only look at a full-blown burn-out, then the University of Amsterdam wins the dubious first prize for the highest number of burn-outs among the whole population (i.e. students who are or aren’t doing a residency) as well as residents (21.3 and 27.9 percent). In both rankings, EUR comes second (both 17.8 and 19.1 percent). Further questions reveal that students at the University of Amsterdam receive little information about the aim of the study, their own performance and the intended results of the study. For EUR, additional research is being conducted into the specific causes at work.

The University of Maastricht has the lowest number of medical students with a full blown burn-out (8.6 percent). The research reports that at this university, students have many protective factors, while triggers are often absent. At VU Amsterdam and Leiden University too, there are relatively few students suffering from a burn-out or symptoms.

At Erasmus MC, no one was available to comment on the results of the research.

In its research, De Geneeskundestudent makes a distinction between a full-blown burn-out and its individual symptoms: emotional exhaustion and mental distance. According to the researchers, the reasons for this are too few protective factors (support from home and work, good feedback, insight into their work and its usefulness) and too many triggering factors (emotionally stressful work, lack of clarity about tasks, no personal input and excessive workload).

De Geneeskundestudent is the national and independent association of medical students with over 17 thousand members. This was the third study into fatigue and mental problems. 2343 students took part in the research in November 2016. Roughly half of them had not yet done residencies and three quarters were women. From the EUR, 248 students took part, so around 11 percent.