University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Medical Student Burnout as Impacted by Trait Emotional Intelligence – Moderated by Three-Year and Four-Year Medical Degree Programs and Gender

Robert Treat, PhD; William J. Hueston, MD; Jeff Fritz, PhD; Amy Prunuske, PhD; Craig J. Hanke, PhD

WMJ. 2021;120(3):188-194.

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Introduction: Medical student burnout has received increasing attention in recent years due to greater acceptance of psychological and emotional vulnerability in the health care profession. Given the significant investment of personal and financial resources in this demanding profession, continued evaluation of factors contributing to burnout in medical training is necessary. A midwestern medical college with a longstanding 4-year medical degree program created 2 regional campuses that utilize a calendar-efficient 3-year medical degree program. The objective in this study is to examine if medical student burnout scores are higher for students on the 3-year campuses and how that is affected by emotional intelligence.

Methods: First- and second-year medical students voluntarily completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory for Students (scale: 1 = never, 7 = every day) and the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (scale: 1 = completely disagree, 7 = completely agree). Multifactor analysis of variance assessed mean differences in burnout between campus and gender. Multivariate linear regressions were used for predicting burnout from emotional intelligence.

Results: Three-year campus students reported significantly (P<0.010) higher mean [SD] scores (8.3 [2.0]) than the 4-year campus students (7.4 [2.4]), and female students reported significantly (P<0.049) higher scores (8.2 [2.0]) than male students (7.6 [2.4]). Five emotional intelligence facets were independently associated with increased burnout scores (R² = 0.26, P<0.001) but significantly varied with campus and gender.

Conclusions: There were higher burnout scores in students studying on the two 3-year campuses compared to students on the traditional 4-year campus and higher scores for female students than male students. Different facets of emotional intelligence mitigated student burnout by campus and gender.

Author Affiliations: Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Treat, Hueston); MCW-Central Wisconsin, Wausau, Wisconsin (Fritz, Prunuski); MCW-Green Bay, De Pere, Wisconsin (Hanke).
Corresponding Author: Robert Treat, PhD, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226, 414.955.4867, email; ORCID ID 0000-0003-2291-3858.
Funding/Support: None declared.
Financial Disclosures: Dr Hueston reports receiving consulting fees from the Hong Kong Health Services Research Fund for grant review. All proceeds donated to the Hong Kong Red Cross.
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