Grit protects medical students from burnout: a longitudinal study.



Burnout is a serious issue plaguing the medical profession with potential negative consequences on patient care. Burnout symptoms are observed as early as medical school. Based on a Job Demands-Resources model, this study aims to assess associations between specific job resources measured at the beginning of the first year of medical school with burnout symptoms occurring later in the first year.


The specific job resources of grit, tolerance for ambiguity, social support and gender were measured in Duke-NUS Medical School students at the start of Year 1. Students were then surveyed for burnout symptoms at approximately quarterly intervals throughout the year. Using high ratings of cynicism and exhaustion as the definition of burnout, we investigated the associations of the occurrence of burnout with student job resources using multivariable logistic regression analysis.


Out of 59 students, 19 (32.2%) indicated evidence of burnout at some point across the first year of medical school. Stepwise multivariable logistic regression analysis identified grit as having a significant protective effect against experiencing burnout (Odds Ratio, 0.84; 95%CI 0.74 to 0.96). Using grit as a single predictor of burnout, area under the ROC curve was 0.76 (95%CI: 0.62 to 0.89).


Grit was identified as a protective factor against later burnout, suggesting that less gritty students are more susceptible to burnout. The results indicate that grit is a robust character trait which can prognosticate burnout in medical students. These students would potentially benefit from enhanced efforts to develop grit as a personal job resource.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Jumat, Muhammad Raihan, Pierce Kah-Hoe Chow, John Carson Allen, Siang Hui Lai, Nian-Chih Hwang, Jabed Iqbal, May Un Sam Mok, Attilio Rapisarda, et al. (2020). Grit protects medical students from burnout: a longitudinal study. BMC medical education, 20(1). p. 266. 10.1186/s12909-020-02187-1 Retrieved from

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Deborah Lynn Engle

Associate Professor of the Practice of Medical Education

I currently serve as the Assistant Dean for Assessment and Evaluation for the MD program and as Associate Professor of the Practice of Medical Education. My medical education expertise includes best practices in assessment, program evaluation, curriculum design and scholarship. My research interests focus on assessment of clinical skills, predicting learner performance across the medical education continuum, faculty development in medical education, and interprofessional education.

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