FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2011
(CHICAGO) – For college students, the severe feelings of burnout, highly competitive coursework and intense rigors that are involved with earning a degree can easily prove to be relentless and overwhelming. Concerned about the well-being of osteopathic medical students, members of the American Osteopathic Association’s (AOA) House of Delegates called for increased awareness of depression in osteopathic medical students. Delegates also voted today to support increased availability of adequate treatment options for those affected by depression.
Studies have shown that rates of depression in medical students are more than double the rate for the general population. In addition, one in four medical students suffering from depression or depression-related symptoms will not seek medical attention.
“Given how demanding medical school curriculum is compared to undergraduate work, it is natural for medical students to feel overwhelmed,” explains Boyd R. Buser, DO, AOA trustee and the vice president and dean of the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. “But as future physicians, students need to understand the importance of taking care of themselves in order to be able to effectively care for their patients. They should seek medical attention if they think they suffer from depression just as they would seek treatment if they think they broke their wrist.”
Feelings of depression are especially alarming since the relationship between depression and thoughts of suicide is well-recognized throughout the medical community.
“Medical students are encouraged to seek help for emotional issues, including depression, in order to reduce the risk of recurrence throughout their medical careers. Managing stress and receiving treatment for depression enables students to become more effective physicians,” said Daniel E. Wolf, DO, a psychiatrist in private practice in Seattle and former acting medial director of the Washington Physicians Health Program, a program that provides assistance to physicians who suffer from emotional or substance abuse issues. “By passing this policy the AOA is taking an important step in raising awareness and helping students obtain needed treatment.”
About the House of Delegates
The AOA’s House of Delegates, comprised of more than 500 delegates representing osteopathic state medical associations, specialty societies, interns, residents and students from throughout the country, meets annually in July to set organizational policies and elect new officers.
About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 78,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs); promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at www.osteopathic.org.