News » Katherine Chretien, MD, Co-authors Study on Wellness Programs in Medical Schools

Katherine Chretien, MD, Co-authors Study on Wellness Programs in Medical Schools

In a survey published in Academic Medicine, Katherine Chretien, MD, associate dean for student affairs and professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), assessed the prevalence and scope of wellness programs in medical schools in the United States and Canada.

Chretien and her fellow authors from the University of Chicago surveyed 159 medical schools in the two countries about their wellness programming, mental health initiatives, and evaluation strategies. Of the 104 schools that responded, 90 reported having a formal wellness program. Most of the programs tilted toward preventive, reactive, and cultural content rather than structural, and most of the schools had in-house mental health professionals available to medical students. Many of the schools also evaluated their programs using the Association of American Medical Colleges Graduation Questionnaire or student surveys. 

The survey found that among the barriers to access, a lack of financial and administrative support hindered wellness programming. In addition, a lack of time and administrative support were the most common barriers to evaluations. As a result, the survey determined that while wellness programs are widely established at American and Canadian medical schools, they need ample financial and administrative assistance to bolster students’ well-being. These programs also need rigorous evaluations of their effectiveness so schools can appropriately allocate resources and develop the programs.

“Medical schools are increasingly recognizing that wellness and self-care are a critical component of student success,” Chretien says. “Medicine is a challenging, demanding field with high levels of burnout. We need to equip students with the strategies, habits of mind, resources, and structures to allow them to maintain their well-being, both during medical school and beyond.”

Chretien currently co-chairs the Wellness Committee at SMHS. She’s also written extensively about wellness and medicine, including her own experiences; her book, “Mothers in Medicine,” based on her long-running blog, was published in 2018. Her second book, “I Wish I Read This Book Before Medical School” is focused on helping medical students thrive and is due to be published later this year.

Katherine Chretien, MD, associate dean for student affairs and professor of medicine, published a study on the prevalence and scope of wellness programs in medical schools in the United States and Canada in Academic Medicine.