Making time for student wellness

March 3, 2017

Medical school in the modern era may still involve the predictable late-night studying and rigorous testing, but it's evolving to include things like meditation and financial wellness, too. In the OHSU School of Medicine, these activities are organized through the advising and mentorship program known as The Colleges.

On Feb. 1, the M.D. Class of 2020 participated in the first of three scheduled College Wellness Days. The first-year medical students split up into learning communities based on their anticipated future practice setting. One-third of the class learned about ultrasound techniques. Another cohort learned about financial wellness and how to use student loans wisely to graduate with as little debt as possible, including how to pay for residency interviews and relocation. The final activity was a mini-wellness fair with a variety of activities to choose from, including adult coloring, yoga, exercise, nutrition and meditation and mindfulness for stress relief.

Drs. Nicole Deiorio and Ben Schneider ready the popcorn Dr. Schneider and students in the MD Class of 2020

Nicole Deiorio, M.D., and Ben Schneider, M.D., assistant deans for M.D. student affairs, were on hand serving fresh popcorn from a new popper donated to the Office of Undergraduate Medical Education by the OHSU School of Medicine Alliance.

Wellness curricula and stress reduction activities are increasingly seen as essential to medical student education – an experience that educators recognize as stressful and therefore influential on a student's mental health. Several studies have shown that depression rates among medical students are significantly higher than those in the same age cohort in the general population, and that medical students display high levels of anxiety and burnout.

The Colleges program holds three such events between January and June, giving all first-year students in the YOUR M.D. curriculum exposure to each of the wellness components, customized to their anticipated practice setting. Additional wellness events will be held March 15 and June 7.