The need for incorporating emotional intelligence and mindfulness training in modern medical education

Although the study of medicine and the tradition of medical students gaining clinical experience on hospital wards have not significantly changed over the years, the experience of physicians practicing in the current climate has changed dramatically | Postgraduate Medical Journal

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Physicians are confronted with increasing regulations aimed at improving quality of care and are often overwhelmed by their position in a tug-of-war between administrators, staff, colleagues and most importantly, patients. With more than half of the US physicians experiencing professional burnout, questions arise regarding their mental health and work-life balance. Blendon et al. reported an overall decline in the public’s confidence and trust in physicians, which may be explained by cultural changes as well as displeasure with medical leaders’ responses to healthcare needs. As the next generation of physicians emerges in this evolving healthcare environment, adaptation to new practices and regulations will be imperative. Emotional intelligence (EI) and mindfulness provide a possible solution to the struggles physicians will invariably face.

The term EI, which refers to a person’s ability to recognise, discriminate and label their own emotions and those of others, was coined by Salovey and Mayer and popularised by Goleman. Mindfulness is the process by which an individual actively observes his or her thoughts and feelings without judgement. With foundations in Eastern meditation, mindfulness is now an accepted method of stress reduction in Western culture.

Full reference: Shakir, H.J. et al. (2017) The need for incorporating emotional intelligence and mindfulness training in modern medical education. Postgraduate Medical. Journal Published Online First: 06 June 2017.

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