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November 1990

Caring for Medical Students as Patients

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry; Religious Studies Program University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Center for the Study of Bioethics; Student Mental Health Services Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Center for Clinical Medical Ethics University of Chicago (Ill)

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(11):2249-2253. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390220011003

Medical students become ironically vulnerable patients. Despite their level of education, awareness of illness, and proximity to medical professionals and health institutions, unusual and largely unrecognized problems may interfere with medical student health care. The reasons for this relate both to the special characteristics of medical students and to the systems in which they receive health care. As a group, medical student–patients may ignore or deny their health problems and psychological stresses1-4; think themselves able to diagnose and treat their own ills1,5-10; believe their concerns to be unimportant or less legitimate than those of other patients1,4; or, like physicians, feel awkward in seeking care.1,11-16 Further, medical students are at risk for impairing illnesses that affect physicians, including substance abuse, psychiatric disorders, and, more recently, AIDS.2,3,6-10,17-43 These stigmatizing illnesses often discourage individuals from seeking health care.2,42 In addition, at a system level, health care for

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