Acts of Kindness - An intervention to support undergraduate medical student’s wellbeing during clinical placement
by Lowri Bowen
It has been well documented that Undergraduate medical students have a higher prevalence of mental health conditions compared to their peers, but more worryingly they are also less likely to seek support if they are suffering (1-3). We therefore aimed to implement a ‘random acts of kindness’ reporting system within our undergraduate centre and evaluate its impact upon our students overall wellbeing.
A ‘random acts of kindness’ reporting system was introduced to encourage students and faculty to anonymously report any selfless acts or achievements that merit special recognition. Each month the ‘acts of kindness’ were collated and disseminated to students and faculty. The impact upon the students’ wellbeing was then evaluated using a questionnaire with both quantitative and qualitative elements.
Over 50 ‘random acts of kindness’ were reported over a 3 month period. 64 students responded to the questionnaire across three year groups. 64% of responders appreciated the ‘random act of kindness’ initiative and commented that it was ‘nice to acknowledge sweet things’ and it was ‘good to know nice things go on’. Students also valued the cross year group involvement stating ‘I was quite lost at the beginning of the placement and the kindness that the seniors showed was 'life-saving'’.
This intervention demonstrated that students appreciated the ‘random acts of kindness’ and found it easy to engage with and reflect upon. This low cost intervention, which could be easily replicated by other undergraduate centres, allowed our students across all year groups to feel part of a community here in Gloucestershire, positively impacting upon their overall wellbeing whilst on clinical placement.
- Cohen D, Winstanley S, Palmer P, Allen J, Howells S, Greene G, et al. Factors that impact on medical student wellbeing – Perspectives of Risk. June 2013. Cardiff University.
- Yoesof M, Baba A. The impact of medical education psychological health of medical students. A cohort study. Psychology health and medicine. 18(4) Nov.2012
- Peters D, Horn C, Gishen F. Ensuring our future Doctors are resilient. BMJ. 2018;362