Advertisement

Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Teaching Doctors to be Mindful

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.

Advertisement

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:

Advertisement

 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.

Advertisement

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

Finding our True Selves in the Vastness of Nature
What is the self beyond language concept, and story? Can we find an identity in the unfolding awareness of the moment? When we let go of stories and release ourselves into the flow of the moment, we start to realize the world that we live ...

posted 10:55:04am Apr. 22, 2016 | read full post »

Check the Balance of Your Equanimity Equity
At a recent workshop at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, I coined a new phrase: equanimity equity (EE). EE is the rationale for ...

posted 7:39:16am Mar. 19, 2016 | read full post »

Getting to Forgiveness
I was recently interviewed again by Brianna Steinhilber of EverUp. This time on Forgiveness. Read her excellent piece here that quotes me. ...

posted 5:40:52pm Feb. 24, 2016 | read full post »

Handling Rejection
I was recently interviewed by Brianna Steinhilber of EverUp for a piece on dealing with rejection. You can read her very thoughtful story ...

posted 6:03:05pm Feb. 09, 2016 | read full post »

Accessibility and the Precious
I had an interesting dream image last night. I was observing a fantastic display of the aurora borealis--Northern lights (or it might have ...

posted 9:14:31am Jan. 31, 2016 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

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

All reported content is logged for investigation.