The Psychiatric Burden on Medical Students in New York City Entering Clinical Clerkships During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Document Type


Publication Date



Psychiatry, Medical Education

Journal Title

The Psychiatric quarterly

MeSH Headings

COVID-19; Clinical Clerkship; Depression (psychology); Depressive Disorder, Major; Humans; New York City (epidemiology); Pandemics; Prospective Studies; SARS-CoV-2; Students, Medical (psychology)


For medical students first entering the clinical space in July 2020, the unique challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic threatened to amplify the psychological distress associated with clerkship rotations. This study aimed to characterize the mental health of third-year medical students starting clinical clerkships in the midst of a pandemic by assessing symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as risk, coping, and protective factors associated with psychological outcomes. Of 147 third-year medical students at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, 110 (75%) participated in this prospective survey-based study with 108 included in the final analysis. 43 (39.8%) respondents screened positive for symptoms of either MDD, GAD, or PTSD. Multiple regression analyses revealed that greater overall symptom severity was associated with more avoidant coping, more traumatic events witnessed, poorer student and leisure functioning, lower trait emotional stability, and lower social support. Worries related to COVID-19 did not significantly influence outcome variables. To better understand the role of the pandemic on psychological outcomes in third-year medical students, additional research should focus on the trajectory of these outcomes over the year during the coronavirus pandemic.


Emma Stanislawski- Resident

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