Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


Teaching Doctors to be Mindful

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net. For more images from this artist click on the photo.

There is a basic irony in our health care system (well, probably more than one!). Our doctors, nurses, and physician assistants are some of the most stressed professionals.

Medical resident training only recently instituted a rule limiting the number of work hours per week to 80. Can you imagine. Physicians are faced with numerous challenging, if not impossible tasks. These include needing to remember a vast and ever growing body of clinical knowledge and applying this knowledge during time-limited visits in systems that have fragmented information. They may also being doing this under conditions of sleep deprivation.

In 1979 Jon Kabat-Zinn started a quiet revolution by introducing mindfulness meditation to the patients of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The revolution continues now to include the providers of health care.

This ground breaking work is being conducted by Dr. Mick Krasner and his colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical School They are bringing the practices and benefits of mindfulness to physicians. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2009 demonstrated the benefits of this training for reducing burnout and increasing empathy for primary care doctors.

A recent New York Times blog provides an update on this work. Dr. Pauline Chen notes:

 There has been a growing awareness among doctors that being mindful, or fully present and attentive to the moment, not only improves the way they engage with patients but also mitigates the stresses of clinical practice.

But it takes training, and that training can be particularly challenging for physicians who are used to denying their personal responses to difficult situations. In addition to learning to meditate, doctors participate in group discussions and writing and listening exercises on topics like medical errors, managing conflict, setting boundaries and self-care. Small group discussions are meant to increase awareness of how one’s emotions or physical sensations influence behaviors and decisions.

It takes much effort and time to change cultures, especially in medicine. It may be easier to teach wellness than to practice. Highly trained physicians may feel they are exempt. Yet the evidence suggests that this not the case. We are all vulnerable to the ravages of stress. It’s difficult to stop and take the time for self-care. As physicians, we may feel invulnerable, super-human, but this can’t persist.

Mindfulness teaches us to attend and respond in ways that promote wholeness. Our physical, mental, and spiritual integrity depend on our ability to pay attention and direct attention to the most skillful place in any given moment.

The revolution is coming and it started in the unassuming places of Worcester and Rochester. I extend my heartfelt appreciation to my mindfulness colleague Mick Krasner for his courageous work.

 



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Patti

    Thank you for keeping up with your blog. This post, and the others, help me in living my life with mindfulness.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment moe

    I am a nurse practitioner and I practice mindfulness with my patients and it works! The patients like it too! I recently saw a provider and could tell right away she was not present at all in our encounter and I do not plan on going back.

  • http://www.counselingtherapyonline.com Peter Strong

    As a Mindfulness-based Therapist I frequently offer training to medical practitioners and other therapists seeking to incorporate mindfulness into their practices to help them better meet the needs of their patients.

    • http://exquisitemind.com Dr. Arnie Kozak

      Thanks for being in touch, Peter. I appreciate your reading the blog and the work you are doing for physicians and others. It’s such important work. I see you have also written a book called “The Path of Mindfulness Meditation.”

  • Pingback: 300 Posts and Counting - Mindfulness Matters

Previous Posts

Drive by Shooting: Mindfulness on NPR
It's not surprising when a feature on mindfulness appears in a major media outlet. Mindfulness is popular. This time it is a sub-four minute interview on NPR. Tamara Keith spoke with Sharon Salzberg, one of the co-

posted 6:25:54pm Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

No More Fooling Around: Changing the World Through Mindfulness
Today I will start a series of posts about how we can change the world through mindfulness and the wisdom of the Buddha's teachings. This transformation starts with individuals and progresses through groups, corporations, and then societies. Ultimately, a global movement is possible and will be acco

posted 10:47:16am Jul. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Mindfulness for Introverts
Mindfulness is a natural fit for introverts. The act of meditation itself is an introverted activity and at the same time equips introverts to navigate their interior without getting stuck in rumination. I recently wrote an essay for the Kripalu Thrive blog entitled Mindfulness for Introverts.

posted 3:26:51pm Jul. 08, 2014 | read full post »

The transformative power of mindfulness . . .
As I mentioned last week, there is a special learning opportunity upcoming with Jack Kornfield. I hope you got a chance to look at his videos. Registration is now open to take advantage of studying mindfulness with one of the most beloved American teachers. When it comes to creating real, lasting

posted 11:28:48am Jun. 17, 2014 | read full post »

7 Contemplations for Realizing the Spiritual Introvert Edge (for introverts AND extroverts)
Spirituality Defined “Spiritual but not religious” is a popular designation. What does it mean to be spiritual? There may be as many definitions of spirituality as spiritual people. Everyone puts their unique imprint on what it is to be a spiritual person. These definitions range from religious

posted 1:58:09pm Jun. 15, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.