Resilience and Mindfulness Course

This program is designed for physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners at Boston Medical Center. Its purpose is to enhance health care providers’ satisfaction with their work, improve the care giver – patient relationship, advance the quality of health care, and improve collaborative teamwork. It is adapted from the Mindful Communication curriculum developed and tested by physicians at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

In response to the increasing pace and complexity of medical practice, physicians and other prescribing clinicians are experiencing unprecedented levels of job dissatisfaction and burnout ‐‐ affecting their sense of wellbeing and the quality of care they provide. A powerful but under‐recognized approach to these challenges is to enhance clinicians’ 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 oneself. Mindfulness is at the core of clinical competence and has been demonstrated to enhance clinicians’ resilience and well-being. This program will give practicing physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants the skills to become more mindful during daily clinical practice.

Overall Goals:

  • Promote resilience, health, and well-being within the healthcare environment
  • Develop skills and knowledge necessary to begin and maintain a mindfulness practice
  • Develop self-observation skills which can improve one’s relationship with self, clients/patients, and with other health care team members
  • Learn to deal more skillfully with suffering and to be able to experience compassion without burnout, apathy and exhaustion

Structure of the Course

The course meets weekly for 2 hours beginning on September 17th, 2013. It will be held from 6-8 pm in the FGH building. Dinner will be provided.

Components of the Course

The course consists of a series of structured modules utilizing mindfulness exercises, “appreciative inquiry” interviews, and written narratives.

Mindfulness is defined as an open, receptive, and non-judgmental awareness of one’s moment-to-moment experience. The cultivation of mindfulness is most effective if it involves the regular practice of meditation. This includes body scan, mindful movement (yoga), sitting meditation, and walking meditation. These practices are designed to enhance the participants’ awareness of the stream of thoughts, feelings, and sensations which influence action and behavior from moment to moment.

Narrative Medicine involves the creation and sharing of reflective stories that explore the profound and meaningful experiences one has as a health care provider and member of a health care team. It is a discipline which provides a way of understanding the personal connections between providers and patients, and amongst the healthcare team. The sharing of stories originating from lived clinical experience provides the opportunity for reflection, dialogue and discussion.

Appreciative Inquiry is an approach to individual and organizational change that alters habitual patterns of thinking and behavior by redirecting attention from problems to be solved and deficiencies to be corrected towards strengths and capacities to be enhanced and extended. It strives to foster growth and change by focusing participants’ attention on their existing capacities and successful aspects of their problem solving and relationship building as opposed to an exclusive focus on problems and challenges. This practice fosters imagination and innovation towards more positive individual and team goals.

Attributes of Mindful Practice

Participants will develop clinical the habits of self-questioning, self-monitoring and self-awareness which characterize mindful practice. The attributes include:

Attentive observation: being able to observe without prematurely making judgments that would otherwise distort or diminish one’s capacity to understand. This involves monitoring one’s own biases, thoughts and emotions: “observing the observer observing the observed.”
Critical curiosity: being welcoming and receptive to new data, surprises and challenges, rather than succumbing to availability bias, premature closure and being overly rigid or concrete.
Beginner’s mind: the ability to take a fresh perspective on a familiar problem. Being able to take more than one perspective simultaneously means that more diagnostic and therapeutic options and technical skills can be applied to a particular situation.
Presence: being there physically and emotionally for patients, focusing on important tasks, being a good team player and accurately communicating an understanding of the patient’s concerns and feelings (empathy).

This course will help clinicians develop a capacity for mindfulness marked by:

  • being responsive rather than reactive
  • noticing things about oneself and situations even though they might be unpleasant
  • acting with awareness and intention (not being on “automatic pilot”), and
  • focusing on experience, not the labels or judgments we apply to them (e.g. understanding patients and their problems rather than just categorizing or judging them).

Publications Regarding the Curriculum
Michael S. Krasner, et al. Association of an Educational Program in Mindful Communication With Burnout, Empathy, and Attitudes Among Primary Care Physicians, JAMA. 2009;302(12):1284-1293.

Ronald M. Epstein, MD. Mindful Practice, JAMA. 1999;282:833-839.

Registration is currently closed.