‘Just what the doctor ordered’: Promoting wellbeing with medical students

Dr Hannah Sloan1, Ms Danielle Clayman1

1 The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne VIC

The tertiary student experience is not the same for all. Some students navigate the challenges of student life and flourish amidst stresses, whilst others experience considerable distress and disengage (Stallman, 2010; Larcombe et al., 2015). Much research has sought to identify what factors contribute to students thriving at university and what constitutes a successful student. Medical students have long been thought of as ‘successful’ students with high academic attainments and abilities, however recent research suggests medical students experience higher rates of mental health distress and suicidal ideation compared to the broader student population (Rotenstein et al., 2016). In recognition of the challenges faced by medical students, the Melbourne Medical School developed a new proactive approach to student support through the appointment of two Health and Wellbeing Practitioners. The Health and Wellbeing Practitioners have adopted a ‘Health Promoting University’ strategic model (Okanagan Charter, 2015) that focuses on the implementation of proactive individual interventions and group based programs. These programs have been designed in close consultation with medical students, and seek to broaden the scope of what constitutes a successful medical student to include mental wellbeing. This innovative approach to medical student health and wellbeing demonstrates a school wide, preventative-based approach to promoting student mental health. The authors detail the design, delivery and evaluation of this evidence based model to student wellbeing.


Hannah is the rural based Health and Wellbeing Practitioner, supporting medical students across their long term rural clinical placements. Hannah is a clinical psychologist and has practiced in both public and private sectors. Hannah’s research interests are in the area of student mental health, coping styles and adjustments to student life.

Danielle is the metropolitan based Health and Wellbeing Practitioner, supporting metro and outer-metro based medical students. Danielle is a Social Worker with extensive experience in community based settings, as well as the tertiary sector. Danielle has a particular interest in mental health promotion and addictions, as well as student equity issues


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education.

For more information, please visit ANZSSA website by anzssa.com.


ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

For more information, please visit the ISANA website at www.isana.org.au.

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