There are many challenges associated with being a young doctor. These include managing stress, burnout, and maintaining good mental health and a healthy approach to self-care. There are also other challenges including working in an increasingly fast-paced, distracted and distracting environment where practices like complex multitasking are becoming the norm. Amidst this there are a disturbingly high number of diagnostic and medication errors which have enormous implications for the wellbeing of doctors, patients and their families, and the healthcare system.
There is a need to find and apply strategies that are going to help doctors deal with such challenges. To micromanage attention in these complex environments and to learn to move through a busy and full working day one moment, one job, one patient at a time. For these and other reasons an increasing number of medical schools and hospitals are turning to practices like mindfulness which has been demonstrated to have a range of benefits including reducing work-related stress and burnout at the same time as enhancing self-care and compassion. There is also an emerging literature indicating that it may help to reduce clinical errors.
Mindfulness is a simple approach enhancing our ability to engage and sustain attention at the same time as fostering a more open and compassionate attitude to the present moment. It is developed both through the formal practice of mindfulness meditation and the informal practice of being mindful as we go about our day-to-day life.
The article, Why Mindfulness Matters in Medical Education, gives a little of the rationale for mindfulness skills within medical education and practice as well as describing the approach to teaching mindfulness we have taken in Australia at Monash University. It also provides links to further resources including a free introductory online mindfulness course developed by Monash University, and housed on the UK-based FutureLearn platform.