Young, unmarried medical students who find themselves in large debt are at higher risk of abusing alcohol than their peers who don’t attend medical school.
This discovery was made in a study conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers who analyzed burnout among more than 12,000 medical students. Scientists found that 1,400 of the respondents had developed clinical alcohol dependence or abuse.
Alcohol issues are described as having a tendency of drinking more alcohol – or do so more frequently – than usual. According to leading study author Dr. Liselotte Dyrbye, a Mayo Clinic internist, there’s plenty of cause for concern.
His team urged institutions to design a multifaceted solution that would help solve the rising rates of burnout in the midst of medical students; this type of psychological stress is associated with the high costs of medical education and ends up leading to alcohol abuse.
Emotional exhaustion and depersonalization are also linked to alcohol abuse or dependence. Other factors were found to be independently associated with having one too many drinks, such as being unmarried or single, the overwhelming amount of college debt, and being younger than most colleagues in medical school.
Researchers found no statistical difference when they took into consideration the gender of the participants or the medical school year they were studying in. The research conducted by the researchers at the Mayo Clinic was recently featured in the Academic Medicine journal.
Eric Jackson, a Mayo Medical School student who helped Dr. Dyrbye conduct the study, said their paper recommended that medical schools provide wellness programs for their students, as well as identify and remedy the factors that contribute to stress in the learning environment.
At the same time, researchers suggested that medical schools should be more focused on removing the barrier that stops the students from seeking mental health services when it’s necessary.
For private colleges, the average cost of a medical school rose to a whopping 209 percent between 1995 and 2014, compared to 286 percent in public institutions.
Researchers also found that students who graduated from medical school in 2014 are now under the great pressure of paying back approximately $180,000 of student loans.
Another study discovered that student loans represent a problem not only for students or young professionals. Many Americans 65 years old and older still have to pay some of their college debt; their collective debt rises to roughly $18.2 million.
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