Reflecting on Medical Student stress: comparisons with the UK’s 80’s generation…


It goes all the way back to 1986? Sometimes its best to look back not forwards, and we can see from research in the BMJ dating back to 1986 that medical students were having a tough time back then.

Lets go back to the results from 1986 from the paper “Levels and sources of stress in medical students”, published by Jenny Firth.

The domains assessed included:

  • Clinical tasks with patients
  • Talking with patients
  • Dealing with death or suffering
  • Relationship with consultants Relationship with other doctors
  • Academic work
  • Effect on private life (relationships, finances, etc)
  • Feeling that medical profession has failed
  • (embarrassing or distressing patients, possibility of
  • incompetence, etc.)
  • Presenting cases, performing on ward rounds
  • Concerns over electives

33% of men and 4% of women did not report any stressful experiences. I wonder where they are now…What’s perhaps even more interesting is that ‘talking with patients’ was the most stressful event for the students. Why not have a look at our poll to see what the current medical students were thinking?

Amongst the results are some interesting findings including:

  • 17% of medical students agreeing to drinking a lot occasionally
  • 4% of medical students drinking a lot often

Its likely that the domains, if they were being written again today would have a slightly different feel to them. A quick search on Google now brings up the American Medical Students Association (AMSA) for some helpful advice on dealing with stress. Unfortunately with the increasing pressures of the global credit crunch, there are certainly fears that it could only get worse.

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