In response to the increasing pace, complexity, regulatory requirements and financial challenges of medical practice and training, physicians, including those still in training, are experiencing unprecedented levels of job dissatisfaction and burnout, affecting their sense of well-being and the quality of care they provide. A powerful but under-recognized approach to these challenges is to enhance physicians’ capacity for mindfulness. Mindfulness in medicine refers to the ability to be aware, in the present moment, on purpose, with the intention of providing better care to patients and to take better care of ourselves. Mindfulness is at the core of clinical competence, and the proposed program will give faculty the skills and tools to teach students and residents to become more mindful during daily clinical practice.
A similar course on “Mindful Practice” was offered in October 2011. This course was based on efforts, over the past five years, with the assistance of planning grants from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and implementation grants totaling $800,000 from the Mannix Fund, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and the Physicians Foundation for Healthcare Excellence, in which we developed, implemented, and studied a Mindful Practice curriculum. This curriculum consists of a series of 12 innovative training modules to teach and reinforce patient-centered care using techniques derived from mindfulness training, narrative medicine, reflective questioning, and appreciative inquiry. We have employed these modules in separate programs for medical students, for residents in all of our major training programs, and for community-based primary care physicians. To date, over ~ medical students, ~ community-based primary care physicians and ~ residents in surgery, psychiatry, ob-gyn, pediatrics, neurology, medicine and family medicine have participated in sessions facilitated by nearly two dozen faculty members from their respective clinical departments. We have documented that there is a need for the program nationally, based upon the high levels of burnout observed and documented among practitioners, residents and students. We continue to study the effects of these experiences on the participants, and data from the community physician intervention show enhanced mindfulness, empathy, and improvements in burnout and mood states. The target audience for this program is faculty and community physicians who educate in medical schools, residency programs, and continuing professional education organizations in Mindful Practice and Communication.