Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Only a small number of studies have examined the relationship between medical students and burnout syndrome. In Salzburg, Paracelsus Private Medical University (PMU) offers a 5‑year medical program instead of the regular 6 years of medical studies. Due to the tight schedule and heavy workload, the stress level of students is high. The purpose of this study was to determine whether PMU students show burnout symptoms. Three surveys were conducted: at the beginning of the academic year (T1, December 2009), at the end of the academic year (T2, June 2010), and at the beginning of the following academic year (T3, December 2010). For the assessment of burnout, the Maslach Burnout Inventory (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization or cynicism, and low personal accomplishment) was used, as well as the Six Factors Theory of Burnout (workload, control, reward, community, fairness, and values) and for comparison, the Austrian norms developed by Unterholzer. Burnout rate was calculated by a combined measure of the three components. The results show a significant difference from the norm means in emotional exhaustion, depersonalization/cynicism, and low personal accomplishment. With regard to areas of work life, all values are below the means, indicating high workload, high external control, low reward, low feeling of community, and low fairness—except values, i.e., motivation of the students. The mean overall burnout frequency turned out to be 47.8 ± 11.0%, whereas females have slightly higher burnout rates than males. An increasing linear trend with burnout rates was seen from the youngest to the oldest class. In addition, the estimated burnout rate increased within the academic term, as T2 had the highest rate, followed by T3, and the lowest rate was seen in T1. In conclusion, burnout in medical students is frequent and significantly related to heavy workload and other factors of worklife, necessitating changes of academic and organizational settings of medical curricula.