Stress management for medical students: Scientific knowledge converts into practical tools through interaction and reflection

Research output: Conference materialsPosterpeer-review


Background High l
evel of harmful stress is common among medical students. In order to give students useful knowledge and tools, a compact and optional course “Stress management methods for students” was designed in University of Helsinki. The course has been organized twice (2016 and 2017) for group of approximately 50 students.
Summary of work
Students kept stress and sleep diary before the course, attended interactive lectures on physiology and psychology of stress, connections of brain function, sleep and exercises to stress, studying techniques and mindfulness. All lectures included research based knowledge and practical methods. Furthermore, students prepared a group presentation of optional theme and wrote individually a reflective journal. Journals (N=67) were analysed by content analysis.
Summary of results
Students participated course mostly because they had experienced stress during first study year and needed tools for their studies and for future as practitioners. Participants became more aware of their stress symptoms and their helpful and harmful ways of coping with stress. Especially sleep diary and knowledge about sleep and stress gave new insights. Sharing their experiences with peers was felt encouraging and relieving. Active group work empowered students and they highly appreciated peers’ point of views.
Discussion and Conclusions
Students were stimulated by versatile scientific knowledge as well as new practical tools. They started to see stress as a functional reaction that can not be totally avoided, but rather could be used as resource. A framework which combines physiological, psychological and social aspects of stress helps medical students to understand the emotions that are connected to stress. Furthermore, diverse content gives every student some new coping mechanisms, for example mindfulness or at least reinforces good, but forgotten habits.
Take-home message
Most of the participants were very satisfied with the course and would recommend it to their peers. This interactive course is one way to create a culture that supports healthy stress coping mechanisms at the very beginning of medical school. As one student crystallized: “A doctor who is feeling well is a best resource a patient can have”.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2018
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

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