Stress resilience

Medical students, especially those at Erasmus MC, are prone to burnouts. As a result, Professor Myriam Hunink has been researching the matter. “If they are to provide effective care later on, it’s important that they have resilience.”

Lack of energy, a detached and cynical attitude, feelings of personal inadequacy, insomnia and emotional exhaustion — these are the main symptoms of stress and burnout. And medical students at Erasmus University are found to be the most prone to burnouts and related symptoms of all Dutch undergraduates. This came to light in a 2017 survey by De Geneeskundestudent (The Medical Student), the national advocacy body for medical students. In response, Erasmus MC launched the DESTRESS study ( at the beginning of 2019 under the supervision of Professor Dr Myriam Hunink. The professor and her researchers are studying and tracking the severity of symptoms, risk factors and the progression of symptoms among students. They also monitor what the students are doing on their own to combat stress. In addition, some students are offered the chance to participate in stress-reduction interventions, such as mindfulness training, yoga, running, aikido (a Japanese contact sport that teaches self-defence) and music-making or -listening sessions. Hunink herself runs some of the aikido classes. “It’s about gaining awareness: why do I respond the way I do? A physical response is a reflection of what happens in the mind. If you mentally flee or strike out when you feel under attack, you will do the same on the mat. I teach the students to harmonise and, as it were, dance with their attacker.”

Read the whole article in ea. magazine.


Myriam Hunink PhD

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