Burnout among medical students interested in neurosurgery during the COVID-19 era

Adham M. Khalafallah, Adrian E. Jimenez, Shravika Lam, Abhishek Gami, David L. Dornbos, Walavan Sivakumar, Jeremiah N. Johnson, Debraj Mukherjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has posed unprecedented new stressors to medical student education. This national survey investigated the prevalence of burnout in U.S. medical students interested in pursuing neurosurgical residency during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A 24-question survey was sent to all American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) medical student chapter members. The abbreviated Maslach Burnout Inventory (aMBI) was used to measure the following burnout metrics: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment. Bivariate analyses were conducted and multivariate analyses were performed using a logistic regression models. Results: 254 medical students were included (response rate of 14.5%). The majority were male (55.1%), White (66.1%), and between their 2nd and 3rd years in medical school (62.6%). Burnout was identified in 38 (15.0%) respondents, a rate lower than reported in the pre-COVID era. In multivariate analysis, burnout was significantly associated with choosing not to pursue, or feeling uncertain about pursuing, a medical career again if given the choice (OR = 3.40, p = 0.0075), having second thoughts about choosing to pursue neurosurgery (OR = 3.47, p = 0.0025), attending a medical program in the Northeast compared to the Southeast (OR = 0.32, p = 0.027) or Southwest U.S. (OR = 0.30, p = 0.046), and indicating that one's future clinical performance will have worsened due to COVID-19 (OR = 2.71, p = 0.025). Conclusions: Our study demonstrates relatively low rates of burnout among U.S. medical students interested in pursuing neurosurgery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings also demonstrate multiple factors may aid in early identification of burnout, highlighting potential opportunities for intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106958
JournalClinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Burnout
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus
  • Medical student
  • Neurosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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