Universities in Montpellier, Poitiers or Rennes are taking initiatives to improve the health of students, which several studies have shown can deteriorate during training. The goal is also to improve the doctor-patient relationship in the long run.
The welfare of health students becomes a priority. A number of universities wanted to take up the challenge by opening seminars since the beginning of researchsupport cells and even a teaching unit focused on student welfare and improving empathy.
Main idea: this student development makes them better educators and conversely, learning about better doctor-patient relationships gives meaning to research.
These initiatives are the result of several studies conducted by student unions in 2017 and 2018, which showed that health students were particularly prone to anxiety disorders, depression and even suicide.
Faced with these findings, the Ministry of Health made 15 commitments in April 2018 to improve their well-being. However, the situation remains worrying. So says a new national survey of three medical student associations in 2021 An increase in anxiety (+12 points) and depression (+11 points) since 2017.
Healthy future caregivers to better care for patients
The direct goal of the actions carried out by the universities “well-being and its effect on success, memory”, Laurent Bosquet, professor and head of the department of sport and health at the University of Poitiers, says. According to him, “they are also our future caregivers, medicine is increasingly accepting prevention, and they should contribute to it.”
Laurent Bosquet with the University Hospital and Faculty of Medicine helped create HappyDoc, a three-day workshop that takes place at the beginning of the second year of medicine, because “it’s the first year that hurts the most”. Students play sports or relax there, listen to conference-debates with health professionals, film-debates or theater-forums on nutrition, health, environment or even sexual violence.
The success of this system, which has been in place since 2018, led the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region to extend it to the faculties of Limoges last year and Bordeaux this year. “The goal is that students who understand the importance of this prevention are healthyFrançois Jeanson, vice-president of the regional council, explains, then to spread this to his patients and colleagues in his professional activities and to change the healthcare paradigm. “Happy and healthy caregivers are better monitored and cared for patients.”
Empathy is a key factor in caring relationships, which improves well-being
This is also the opinion of Céline Bourgier, director of the Montpellier Cancer School, and Amandine Luquiens, psychiatrist and addict. Both are responsible for “know-how and therapeutic communication”, a new teaching unit (UE) launched at the Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier-Nîmes in 2021-2022. Source of their thoughts: The observation that “medical know-how was not necessarily acquired for some students“, explains Céline Bourgier.
They have a lot of empathy when it comes to medicine. But, “over time, several studies have shown that this clinical empathy declines in the care setting in the doctor-patient relationship”, says Amandine Luquiens.
Therefore, they have established a teaching unit in modules that are gradually added during the medical years. Among them, bogus consultation for declaration of chronic illnessmindfulness meditation, role play on communication skills, groups for sharing experiences among students, etc.
A compulsory unit of study for all medical students
“These are strategies that have already shown some level of evidence to limit the decline in clinical empathy. This is indirectly related to mental health. Students are in a caring relationship that is meaningful; but Keeping the meaning of what you do in line with your values protects against burnout. Amandine Luquiens explains that it is also a protection against anxiety risks. We’re really careful not to suggest esoteric stuff to students, it’s really “evidence-based” [basé sur des preuves, NDLR]”.
The teaching unit, which is very practical and professional, is compulsory for all medical students, even if they can skip certain sessions. “We have a long-term vision this affects their future professional life, but also in the context of the 5th year of medical schoolwhere there is now a simulated exam [les ECOS, soit examens cliniques objectifs et structurés, NDLR], adds Celine Bourgier. They are assessed on soft skills, so we give them the right tools so they don’t struggle.
In addition to this new teaching unit, the Montpellier medical school has other actions in favor of mental health. including a unit for struggling students.
Cells consisting of teachers and students
Called “Bee-M” (“for medical student welfare”), this type of cell was established in Rennes 1 in February 2022. Consisting of professors, doctors and students, he especially offers. student volunteers and mentoring by faculty and interns for events. “This winter’s conference is currently being finalized. It will focus on an introduction to nonviolent communication for hospital staff and graduate students in health care,” Bee-Mr. member Patricia Ame reports.
Another example at the University of Aix-Marseille, here At the beginning of 2022, a “benevolence commission” was also created within the Faculty of Medicine and Paramedical Sciences for all health students. They can apply for “all psychosocial risks, addiction, aggression, depression, financial difficulties and any difficulties during your studies”.
Evaluate devices dedicated to the well-being of health students
Now, for HappyDoc”one of the challenges is to increase the number of incoming students : Bordeaux had pharmacy and dentistry, but no medical facilities. There were 500 students in Poitiers, but it’s important that everyone is there,” affirms Francois Jeanson, who wants the program to be extended to medical education and other faculties.
“We started evaluating with Isped [Institut de santé publique, d’épidémiologie et de développement] and at the end of the year we will have study kits and resources for universities that want them,” adds Laurent Bosquet.
Starting with the launch of Amandine Luquiens AB in Montpellier, where initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, an anonymous study of a cohort of volunteer students assessed and followed over three years, measure the impact of teaching on several criteria. “The main goal of follow-up is clinical empathy in the care situation,” reminds the doctor. The first results are already being analyzed.