Background: Medical student wellbeing – a consensus statement from Australia and New Zealand outlines recommendations for optimising medical student wellbeing within medical schools in our region. Worldwide, medical schools have responsibilities to respond to concerns about student psychological, social and physical wellbeing, but guidance for medical schools is limited. To address this gap, this statement clarifies key concepts and issues related to wellbeing and provides recommendations for educational program design to promote both learning and student wellbeing. The recommendations focus on student selection; learning, teaching and assessment; learning environment; and staff development. Examples of educational initiatives from the evidence-base are provided, emphasising proactive and preventive approaches to student wellbeing.
Main recommendations: The consensus statement provides specific recommendations for medical schools to consider at all stages of program design and implementation. These are:
Design curricula that promote peer support and progressive levels of challenge to students.
Employ strategies to promote positive outcomes from stress and to help others in need.
Design assessment tasks to foster wellbeing as well as learning.
Provide mental health promotion and suicide prevention initiatives.
Provide physical health promotion initiatives.
Ensure safe and health-promoting cultures for learning in on-campus and clinical settings.
Train staff on student wellbeing and how to manage wellbeing concerns.
Conclusion: A broad integrated approach to improving student wellbeing within medical school programs is recommended. Medical schools should work cooperatively with student and trainee groups, and partner with clinical services and other training bodies to foster safe practices and cultures. Initiatives should aim to assist students to develop adaptive responses to stressful situations so that graduates are prepared for the realities of the workplace. Multi-institutional, longitudinal collaborative research in Australia and New Zealand is needed to close critical gaps in the evidence needed by medical schools in our region.