AACOM Study Highlights the Impact of Medical Student Mindsets on Resiliency and Well-Being

Published June 14, 2024

News Press Release

Effects are especially significant among students from historically marginalized populations


(Bethesda, MD) – New research from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) and Motivate Lab reveals that medical students' beliefs about themselves and their learning environments are crucial to their mental health and well-being.

“There is no doubt today’s medical students are experiencing added stress that could impact their future careers and the health of their future patients,” said Mark Speicher, PhD, MHA, AACOM senior vice president of Research, Learning and Innovation. “Our research indicates that 29 percent of entering osteopathic medical students and 64 percent of graduating students report moderate to severe burnout, highlighting the urgent need for educational interventions that bolster the resiliency of future osteopathic physicians. This study underscores the link between mindset and burnout, setting the stage for future research to develop evidence-based strategies that enhance learning mindsets and foster supportive educational environments.”

The study, which surveyed 6,622 first-year osteopathic medical students and 5,528 graduating osteopathic medical students, examined the impact of three specific learning mindsets on student well-being:

  1. Growth mindset: The belief that intelligence can be developed through hard work, the use of effective strategies and help from others when needed
  2. Purpose and relevance: The belief that one’s schoolwork is valuable because it is connected to a larger purpose and/or relevant to one’s life
  3. Sense of belonging: The belief that one is academically and socially connected, supported and respected

Each mindset was found to contribute to student well-being, with growth mindset showing notable benefits for American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, Latine and Native Hawaiian students.

"These findings indicate that fostering supportive learning mindsets could be a powerful approach to enhancing medical student well-being and reducing burnout, particularly among students from historically marginalized groups," added Dr. Speicher.

The research, published in JAMA Network Open, is part of the Resilient Mindsets in Medicine project, a collaborative initiative between AACOM and Motivate Lab aimed at addressing and mitigating the escalating burnout crisis within the healthcare workforce. The ultimate goal is to improve the health of underserved and vulnerable populations.

Resilient Mindsets in Medicine is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under HRSA-22-109, Health and Public Safety Workforce Resiliency Training Program, totaling $2.28m with 0% financed with nongovernmental sources. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

About AACOM:

Founded in 1898, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) is the leading voice for the education and training of physicians who practice osteopathic medicine in settings across the medical spectrum—from primary care to the full range of medical specialties. We support our member colleges of osteopathic medicine in their efforts to attract and train individuals who are fueled by a desire to make a difference in our healthcare system by treating the whole person and building a future emphasizing health and wellness for all people. Today, more than 35,000 future physicians—25 percent of all U.S. medical students—are being educated at one of our 41 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine, encompassing 66 teaching locations in 35 states. To learn more about AACOM, please visit our website.


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