A new study from the University of Rochester Medical Center reports that mindfulness meditation can reduce burnout in physicians. And we know they need it, thanks to another recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that physician distress and fatigue significantly increase the risk of medical errors.
An important part of the mindfulness training was mindful communication. These communication skills led to an increased sense of support and connection with colleagues, as well as increased empathy for patients.
Coincidentally, my introduction to the now-ubiquitous Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program developed by Jon Kabat Zinn was in an elective class for medical students at Stanford. Community members were also in the class -- people who had been recommended to take the class because of illness or pain -- which made the experience even more eye-opening and educational.
Physicians and physicians-in-training, heal thyself first! Get thee to a mindfulness meditation class.