Journal of Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research


Burnout is a state of exhaustion, impaired performance, and decreased motivation and is associated with several factors including a significant workload, disruptions to the balance between work and other aspects of life, and difficulty expressing or sharing emotions (alexithymia). Because of the demanding nature of the clinical environment, medical doctors are at significant risk of burnout. Because of this, studies examining the factors that contribute to burnout have been conducted on physicians, medical residents, and medical students. However, less work has been done to explore burnout in pre-medical undergraduate (pre-med) students. One factor that may mitigate burnout is having a strong sense of career calling. In this study, we designed a survey instrument to assess burnout, career calling, and several related social, environmental, and internal factors in undergraduate students at Southern Adventist University. Upper-class biology, chemistry, and pre-med students were recruited. Ninety students completed the survey of which 44 (60%) were pre-med and 36 (40%) were not. We compared burnout and associated factors with pre-med status, career calling, and several demographic variables including sex and class standing. We found: (1) Female juniors reported higher levels of burnout compared to male juniors. (2) Junior pre-med students had higher levels of burnout compared to non-pre-med juniors while pre-med seniors showed lower levels of burnout than non-pre-med seniors. (3) Supportive professors increased motivation and mitigated burnout. (4) Levels of daydreaming were higher in pre-med students. (5) Students that felt more settled in their career path had higher motivation, greater willingness to work hard, and lower levels of daydreaming.

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