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

preparation-2291000_960_720.jpg

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.

Arts-based training in observation and mindfulness for fostering the empathic response in medical residents

Zazulak, J. et al. Medical Humanities. Published online: 27 April 2017.

face-985982_960_720.jpg

Empathy is an essential attribute for medical professionals. Yet, evidence indicates that medical learners’ empathy levels decline dramatically during medical school. Training in evidence-based observation and mindfulness has the potential to bolster the acquisition and demonstration of empathic behaviours for medical learners.

In this prospective cohort study, we explore the impact of a course in arts-based visual literacy and mindfulness practice (Art of Seeing) on the empathic response of medical residents engaged in obstetrics and gynaecology and family medicine training.

The results indicated that programme participants improved in the Mindfulness Scale domains related to self-confidence and communication relative to a group of control participants following the arts-based programme. However, the majority of the psychometric measures did not reveal differences between groups over the duration of the programme. Importantly, thematic qualitative analysis of the interview data revealed that the programme had a positive impact on the participants’ perceived empathy towards colleagues and patients and on the perception of personal and professional well-being. The study concludes that a multifaceted arts-based curriculum focusing on evidence-based observation and mindfulness is a useful tool in bolstering the empathic response, improving communication, and fostering professional well-being among medical residents.

Read the full article here

How mindfulness can be used to enhance compassionate care

A CPD article improved understanding of how mindfulness can be used to enhance compassionate care | By Toni McIntosh for the Nursing Standard

marseille-142394_960_720

One issue I experienced in my practice was that after visiting a patient, I would continue to analyse my actions and worry that I had done something wrong. The cumulative effect of this was that I became emotionally exhausted and felt unable to cope.

My manager suggested that I use a mantra, as discussed in the article. This is a phrase that I would repeat to myself after each patient visit, to enable me to feel confident that I did my best and to move on to the next patient with no residual anxiety. This enabled me to focus my attention and energy on each patient, improved my confidence and helped to challenge my self-doubt. I have learned that effective mantras are short, powerful and individual to the person.

Another change I made after reading the article was to try to ‘live in the moment’. I realised I was constantly ruminating about the past and worrying about the future, which meant I was not fully present in each moment. After incorporating mindfulness into my practice, I feel more relaxed and confident, and I have more emotional energy to give to patients.

Read more about Toni’s experience here

The original CPD article abstract is available here

 

Increasing Compassion in Medical Decision-Making: Can a Brief Mindfulness Intervention Help?

Fernando, A.T. et al. (2017) Mindfulness. 8(2) pp. 276–285

hands-1150073_960_720.jpg

Compassion is an essential component of medical practice but is difficult to sustain over time. This problem is increasingly recognized in medical curricula.

Mindfulness-based interventions have the potential to enhance compassion in medicine but this has not yet been tested. This study evaluated whether a brief mindfulness induction increased compassionate responding to difficult patients among medical students and assessed whether trait self-compassion moderated the impact of this experimental manipulation.

Read the full abstract here