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Press release

Majority of medical and nursing students planning careers outside patient care, as fears of burnout and clinician shortages leave them worried about the future

New York | 30 October 2023

Elsevier Health’s first global “Clinician of the Future 2023: Education Edition” highlights students’ deep concerns about balancing their commitment to patient care with their own well-being. The report also identifies key insights into students’ excitement and fears toward technology and AI in healthcare education

Today, Elsevier Health, a global leader in evidence-based clinical practice content, research publishing and information analytics, releases its Clinician of the Future 2023: Education Edition, providing unparalleled insights into the experiences of medical and nursing students and the consequences for global healthcare organizations and educators.

The report reveals how the challenges of being a frontline health professional today are impacting the longer-term career decisions of students, highlighting increasingly challenging times ahead for an already overburdened healthcare system. Although 89% of medical and nursing students feel devoted to improving patients’ lives, findings reveal that 58% already see their current studies as a steppingstone toward a broader career in healthcare that will not involve directly caring for patients.

The Clinician of the Future 2023: Education Edition presents a worrying snapshot of the pressures that medical and nursing students feel today alongside the impending alarm they have for life in clinical practice:

  • 33% of medical and nursing students are considering quitting their undergraduate studies

  • 60% of medical and nursing students report they are worried about their mental well-being

  • 62% of medical and nursing students believe they will suffer from clinician burnout

  • 60% of medical and nursing students are concerned about clinician shortages and the impact this would have on them in their future role

Anjola Awe, a third-year medical student at King’s College London, said: “I have always known that I wanted to be a doctor; I’ve dedicated my life to getting to this stage. Honestly, the findings and themes in the report are not at all surprising to me or my peers; we know only too well the reality of what being a frontline healthcare professional means today. We need to be vocal about the pressure we are under, the state of our mental health and the volume of our academic workload.”

As of June this year, there were more than 125,000 vacancies in secondary care in England, and over 10% of all nursing posts remain unfilled.1 Despite the NHS treating more patients than before the pandemic, the waiting list for NHS treatment currently stands at a record 7.75 million.2 In the US in 2022, the American Hospital Association estimated that over 500,000 nurses would leave the field by the end of the year, many through retirement, bringing the overall shortage of nurses to 1.1 million.3 Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be 203,200 openings for RNs each year through 2031.4 Against this backdrop, it is unsurprising that medical and nursing students in the US and UK are concerned about the challenges they will face in the future.

Cheryl Wilson, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, FNP-BC, CNE, CHSE, an education leader from Elsevier, said:As someone who has worked with students every day, it is unsurprising that they are feeling conflicted and vital that we listen to their concerns and acknowledge the unprecedented workforce emergency that needs to be addressed. We need to support their experiences in the classroom, both with the insurmountable knowledge they need for clinical practice but also the skills they need to effectively treat all patients.”

The Clinician of the Future 2023: Education Edition also identifies key insights into both the excitement and reservation toward technology and generative AI student curriculum. Globally, 62% of medical and nursing students say they are excited at the potential of AI; however, 51% report they are worried about its use to support education. Further, 72% admit to feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information they are expected to retain, with 51% now using generative AI, such as ChatGPT and Bard.

Jan Herzhoff, President of Elsevier Health, said: “It’s clear that healthcare across the globe is facing unprecedented pressures, and that the next generation of medical and nursing students are anxious about their future. Whether through the use of technology or engaging learning resources, we must support students with new and innovative approaches to enable them to achieve their potential. However, the issues raised in this report can’t be tackled in isolation; it is essential that the whole healthcare community comes together to ensure a sustainable pipeline of healthcare professionals.”

The Clinician of the Future 2023: Education Edition is the third edition published as part of Elsevier Health’s Clinician of the Future program, serving as the global health ecosystem’s leading pulse on the changes and challenges facing the doctors and nurses of today and tomorrow.

For the full Clinician of the Future 2023: Education Edition, which includes robust data on global student attitudes toward health education, the future of healthcare, as well as the perspectives of instructors and more, click here.

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Notes to editors

References

The British Medical Association. NHS medical staffing data analysis, The British Medical Association. Available at: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/nhs-delivery-and-workforce/workforce/nhs-medical-staffing-data-analysis(opens in new tab/window) (Accessed: 18 October 2023).

The British Medical Association. NHS backlog data analysis, The British Medical Association. Available at: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/nhs-delivery-and-workforce/pressures/nhs-backlog-data-analysis(opens in new tab/window) (Accessed: 18 October 2023).

The American Hospital Association. Data Brief: Workforce Issues Remain at the Forefront of Pandemic-related Challenges for Hospitals,The American Hospital Association. Available at:https://www.aha.org/issue-brief/2022-01-25-data-brief-workforce-issues-remain-forefront-pandemic-related-challenges(opens in new tab/window) (Accessed October 18 2023).

US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job Outlook, US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Available at: Registered Nurses : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : US Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov)(opens in new tab/window) (Accessed October 18 2023).

Research Methodology

The Clinician of the Future 2023: Education Edition presents the results of a global survey of 2,212 students and two roundtable sessions with key opinion leaders in faculty in the US and UK The aim is to gain a deep understanding of students’ experiences today and their expectations of the future in healthcare, as well as the perspectives of those instructing them.

Elsevier Health’s commitments

In addition to the Clinician of the Future 2023: Education Edition, we are committed to the following:

  • Community Advisor Programs of Osmosis: Providing elements of mentorship and connection to clinician communities

  • Campus visits and feedback from students: Listening and learning through student feedback on how they are approaching their education challenges

  • Year of the Zebra: An initiative to increase awareness of rare diseases and the benefits of patient care

  • Hackathons: Providing clinical challenges for students in North America to advance their clinical education.

  • Hosting webinars on resilience and depression in healthcare, as well as developing podcast episodes relevant to healthcare challenges

  • Continued internships for medical and nursing students

  • Supporting scholarships for minority students through the Elsevier Foundation

About Elsevier Health

For more than 140 years, Elsevier has supported the work of researchers and healthcare professionals by providing current, evidence-based information, that can help empower students and clinicians to provide the best healthcare possible. Growing from our roots, Elsevier Health applies innovation, facilitates insights, and helps drive more informed decision-making for our customers across global health. We support health providers by providing accessible, trusted evidence-based information to take on the infodemic; prepare more future health professionals with effective tools and resources; provide insights that help clinicians improve patient outcomes; deliver healthcare that is truly inclusive; and supports a more personalized and localized healthcare experience. Diversity and inclusion are the foundation of our innovation, and our teams are committed to creating education and practice solutions that reflect the diversity of our world. Elsevier is helping lay the groundwork for more equitable healthcare worldwide; We bring the same rigor to our digital information solutions as we do to our publishing, allowing us to offer knowledge and valuable analytics that help our users make breakthroughs and drive progress for the benefit of every patient.

About Elsevier

As a global leader in information and analytics, Elsevier helps researchers and healthcare professionals advance science and improve health outcomes for the benefit of society. We do this by facilitating insights and critical decision-making for customers across the global research and health ecosystems. In everything we publish, we uphold the highest standards of quality and integrity. We bring that same rigor to our information analytics solutions for researchers, academic leaders, funders, R&D-intensive corporations, doctors, and nurses.

Elsevier employs 9,000 people worldwide, including over 2,500 technologists. We have supported the work of our research and health partners for more than 140 years. Growing from our roots in publishing, we offer knowledge and valuable analytics that help our users make breakthroughs and drive societal progress. Digital solutions such as ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath support strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, medical education, and nursing education. Researchers and healthcare professionals rely on over 2,900 digitized journals, including The Lancet(opens in new tab/window) and Cell(opens in new tab/window); 46,000+ eBook titles; and iconic reference works, such as Gray's Anatomy. With the Elsevier Foundation(opens in new tab/window) and our external Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Board, we work in partnership with diverse stakeholders to advance inclusion and diversity in science, research and healthcare in developing countries and around the world. 

Elsevier is part of  RELX(opens in new tab/window), a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.

Contact

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Dan DiPietro-James

Global Media Relations Director

Elsevier

+1 773-251-8744

E-mail Dan DiPietro-James

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Chris West

Senior Manager, Global Communications

E-mail Chris West