The level of fatigue among medical students is increasing. Exhaustion is an essential symptom of burnout, which may occur even while a student. Our exploratory study sought to identify the characteristics of tired students and to describe factors determining fatigue among medical students. The studied group consisted of second-year medical students (N=193) from a Polish medical university. Statistically significant differences in fatigue appeared between male and female students. We obtained positive correlations between intensity of fatigue and sleepiness, pain intensity, stress, anxiety, depression and negative health conditions, life satisfaction, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and self-efficacy. Predictors relevant for female fatigue were sleepiness, health condition, depression, and conscientiousness (the whole model explains 46% of variance in fatigue). Predictors relevant for male fatigue were sleepiness, health condition, anxiety, and agreeableness (the whole model explains 55% of variance in fatigue). We did not observe differences in fatigue between sleepless, overloaded, or stressed people. Explaining the differences between male and female predictors and levels of fatigue in terms of personality traits through the prism of defined stereotypical social roles is worth considering.

Practitioner Notes

  1. When designing programmes to support the well-being of students and counteract fatigue, it is definitely worth going beyond the interventions to restore good sleep and habits that serve this purpose.
  2. Equally important is effective stress management.
  3. In our research women were more tired, and different factors allowed prediction of fatigue in women sleepiness, health condition, depression, and conscientiousness.
  4. In men, sleepiness, health condition, anxiety and agreeableness.
  5. It is important to consider gender when designing research about fatigue or burnout and before planning practical interventions for reducing exhaustion.