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School of Medicine cuts down student mental health days

Mason Dredge and Sam Bellefy

Mental health days for UMKC med students are disappearing.

Due to their heavy workload, students in their fifth and sixth years in UMKC’s medical program were able to take mental health days. They functioned as days for students to rest and recuperate during their intensive hospital rotations. 

While School of Medicine students were previously able to take health days as needed, the policy has been changed. Students are now limited to only two days a semester, which must be scheduled two weeks in advance.

“Students burnout is a byproduct of this system,” said Wellness council member and medical student Saras Signh. “The health days are a necessity.”

After reviewing the nearly 700 mental health day requests received during the 2019-2020 school year, Associate Dean of Students Dr. Brenda Rogers said the school revised the criteria and continue to monitor these changes.

Rogers did not outline the reasoning behind the change, but some believe the sheer volume of requests to be scheduled led to the re-evaluation of policy.

Nonetheless, the reduction has left many medical students feeling upset.

In their final years in the program, many find themselves overwhelmed by stress due to what Signh calls, “​Non-stop shifts, non-stop studying, non-stop eyes on you evaluating your every move in the hospital and non-stop exams telling you how ‘good’ you are at that field.”

Many students feel overwhelmed working 9-5 shifts training in various fields of medicine, such as surgery, while simultaneously preparing for exams on each specialty.

According to Singh, the physical and emotional drain of their work takes a toll not only on the students ability to learn, but on their ability to treat the real patients they see during their rotations.

However, after the recent changes, students will have to reconsider how and when they take their two respite days, scheduling them beforehand.

“The students, staff and faculty all have the same goal—student wellness without compromising education.” Rogers says. “I am certain the school will continue to adjust how we meet that goal as we review, learn and continue to discuss options and make changes.”

The effect of this new policy on the students in the School of Medicine is yet to be seen. 

samuelbellefy@mail.umkc.edu

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