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This article examines the pre-vocational preparation of doctors to cope with the demands of clinical practice, drawing on literature from across a number of domains: mental health, psychological stress among medical students and medical practitioners; and self-care strategies in medicine curricula. High rates of psychological distress in medical students and medical practitioners were consistently reported. A number of questions remain pertinent to medical education: how does the experience of medical education impact on this level of distress, and possibly exacerbate pre-existing student vulnerabilities? What will help future doctors respond to, and cope with, suffering in their patients? Can the formal curriculum build resilience? Medical schools and educators have a responsibility to address these questions and to provide effective self-care curricula. In this review promising interventions such as mindfulness training are reported, frameworks to guide self-awareness in medical students are suggested, and recommendations for a self-care curriculum are made.
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