Studies have found a high prevalence of psychological distress among medical students both in the United States and abroad. Distress among medical students has serious professional ramifications, including damaging effects on empathy, ethical conduct, and professionalism, as well as personal consequences such as substance abuse, broken relationships, and suicidal ideation. Given the effect of physician distress on quality of care, self-care (including personal appraisal of well-being, wellness promotion, and recognition of when help is needed) should be recognized as a core competency for physicians. In this issue of Academic Medicine, investigators at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine explore the benefits of teaching students to employ a cognitive behavioral approach to improving self-care. Beyond its demonstrated short-term efficacy, the approach they propose also has potential to help students develop the skills necessary to assess and promote resilience throughout their careers. Medical schools' responsibility to promote student wellness, however, goes beyond teaching students self-care skills and includes establishing an appropriate organizational culture and learning environment to promote student health. Achieving competency in self-care is a shared responsibility of the individual physician/resident/medical student and the organizational environment in which he or she functions.
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