A complex systems view in medical student wellbeing research

“…some stress is identity-potent: it has a special meaning in the context of a professional identity.”

Ken and Kathy had the opportunity to write a commentary piece for Medical Education entitled “Moving toward a complex systems view in medical student wellbeing research”. We took the opportunity to further advance the view that we need to move beyond prevalence studies to look at underlying psychological processes, and especially those pertaining to the nature of the emerging medical student and medic identity.

We argued that unless we take identity issues into account then our attempts to moderate the effects of stress on wellbeing may be undermined or backfire because medical schools are complex systems of identity formation alongside the development of knowledge and skills needed to practice medicine.

We also agree with the target article on which we are commenting in calling for more substantive longitudinal and multi-centre studies in order to explore these issues more fully.

“In the context of medical school, typical predictors of wellbeing may not apply, or at least will apply in complex and contextual ways”

The full commentary reference is:

Mavor, K. I., & McNeill, K. G. (2014). Moving toward a complex systems view in medical student well-being research. [Commentary]. Medical Education, 48(10), 941-943.

and the full text can be found here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/medu.12544/full