Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Phenomenological Approach to Understand the Challenges Faced by Medical Students

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Phenomenological Approach to Understand the Challenges Faced by Medical Students

Article excerpt

Medical education poses many new challenges on students throughout the world (Sani et al., 2012). Due to the innate nature of the curriculum and the demands of the medical profession, life in a medical school is not as easy as that of other disciplines like arts and engineering. Yusoff (2013) claims that the intense environment of medical education has created extensive pressure on medical students. Due to these factors, high stress levels and stress related disorders are prevalent amongst medical students (Salam, Yousuf, Abu Baker, & Haque, 2013). The prevalence of stress was 31.2 percent in three British Universities, 41.4 percent in Malaysia, and 61.4 percent in Thailand (Sani et al., 2012). Similar studies related to stress in medical education have also been carried out in Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Pakistan and Australia (Abdulghani, 2008; Amr, El Gilany, & El-Hawry, 2009; Bineshian, Saberian, Haji Aghajani, Ghorbani, Fredonian, Bineshian, & Bineshian, 2009; Mouret, 2002; Sheikh, Kahloon, Kazmi, Khalid, Nawaz, Khan, & Khan, 2004; Sreeramareddy, Shankar, Binu, Mukhopadhyay, Ray, & Menezes, 2007;). India has the largest number of medical schools in the world (Jayakrishnan, Honhar, Jolly, Abraham, & Jayakrishnan, 2012) and is no exception with respect to prevalence of stress among medical students. A study found 25 percent of medical students in an urban area in India to be stressed (Waghachavare, Dhumale, Kadam, & Gore, 2013).

High stress levels lead to poor physical health, mental distress, low self-esteem, and have a negative effect on the cognitive functioning and learning of students in the medical college. (Chew-Graham, Rogers, & Yassin, 2003; Dahlin, Joneberg, & Runeson, 2005; Dyrbye, Thomas, & Shanafelt, 2006; Saipanish, 2003; Velayudhan, Gayatridevi, & Bhattacharjee, 2010). Many researchers have also argued that stress damages mental health and causes anxiety and depression not only in advanced countries, but also in developing countries (Rahman et al., 2013). Hence, it is evident that medical colleges are quite stressful, and that medical students are at high risk for distress and maladaptive coping responses that can lead to emotional and physical symptoms (Brennan, McGrady, Lynch, & Whearty, 2010). If students are distressed, it will lead to decay in humanitarian attitudes (Griffith & Wilson, 2003) and decline in empathy (Hojat, Mangione, Nasca, Rattner, Erdmann, Gonnella, & Magee, 2004). The mental health of future doctors is very important for quality patient care. Hence, it is essential to design interventions to bring down the stress levels of medical students and provide them a congenial environment.

A significant amount of research has gone into identifying the stressors of medical students. Rahman et al. (2013) identified that the teaching and learning process at the medical college was the major source of stress, followed by too many assignments, lecturers asking questions during class, and infrastructure-related issues. There are many other studies that have brought out the stressors in detail (Mahajan, 2010; Yusoff & Rahim, 2010b; Yusoff, Rahim, & Yaacob, 2010a; Yusoff, Yen, Heng, Hon, Xue, Chin, & Ahmad Fuad, 2011a).

Though the factors causing stress in medical students have been identified in detail, there is a dearth of research efforts that explicitly explain the underlying phenomenon. Less is known about how these different stressors manifest themselves during the various stages of medical education and how these stressors are handled by the medical students. There is also a lack of understanding about the kind of support they need from the institutions to handle their challenging environment. The wellbeing and mental health of medical students are important for improving the learning process and creating effective doctors to serve the society. An adequate understanding of the aforementioned areas is extremely important for future planning of effective interventions, and hence warrants further study. …

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