Bringing Needed Change to Medical Student Well-Being: A Call to Expand Accreditation Requirements

Allison P. Knight, Margaret Rea, J. Aaron Allgood, Andres F. Sciolla, Antwione Haywood, Mark B. Stephens, Senthil Rajasekaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Issue: Noting high rates of burnout, depression, and suicidality among medical students, academic medical communities are trying to identify preventive and curricular measures that protect and promote student well-being. To date, the effectiveness of these efforts is unclear. In addition, evidence increasingly suggests that the major drivers of distress appear to be factors within the social, learning, and work environments. Specific to medical schools in the United States, neither the Liaison Committee on Medical Education nor the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation include accreditation standards regarding well-being curricula and, as such, these curricula are not well-integrated into students’ medical school experience. Current accreditation standards also do not specifically require institutions to assess or address systemic factors of the learning environment that negatively affect student well-being. Evidence: This paper proposes expanding current Liaison Committee on Medical Education and Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation standards on professionalism to incorporate well-being as a core component of professional identity formation by requiring individual and institutional-level actions. Proposed changes to accreditation standards include (1) institutional assessment of the impact of the learning environment on student well-being; (2) continuous quality improvement efforts to address structural factors associated with student well-being and modification of practices that impair student well-being; and (3) integrated curriculum with related assessment to educate students on empirically-supported strategies for well-being. Implications: Refining undergraduate medical education accreditation standards in the United States to include language specific to student well-being will facilitate long overdue changes to the learning environment. In the end, the goal is not just to improve medical student well-being, but to provide a workforce better equipped for a sustainable and meaningful career.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • accreditation standards
  • learning environment
  • Medical student well-being
  • well-being assessment
  • well-being curricula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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