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Mindful Practice

Balanced stones

Mindful practice is a means for health professionals to:

  • Enhance their self-awareness, wellness, and resilience
  • Improve their relationships with patients and colleagues
  • Advance the quality of medical care they provide

Our research with physicians demonstrates that mindful practice contributes to quality of care and to physician resilience and well-being, and that training programs can enhance mindfulness.

When practicing mindfully, clinicians listen attentively to patients’ distress, respond to emotions and suffering, recognize and avoid errors, refine their technical skills and make patient-centered decisions. They provide care with greater competence, clarity and compassion. They are attentive, present, curious, present and adopt a "beginner’s mind" when confronting challenging situations. These qualities of mindful practitioners transcend clinical specialty and clinical experience.

Mindful Practice® programs have been developed by a team of physicians on the faculty of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (Rochester, New York, USA). The programs are organized around common challenges faced by health professionals, such as responding to suffering, bad outcomes, conflicts with patients and staff, errors, lapses in professionalism, burnout, and grief. Our current health care environment makes practicing mindfully very challenging. Mindful Practice programs address these barriers. In addition, we address clinicians’ own internal barriers to self-awareness – such as their own unexamined judgments, negative emotions and cognitive biases.

Goals of Mindful Practice Programs:
  • To foster skills of attentive observation, critical curiosity, beginner’s mind, and presence
  • To improve recognition of error-prone situations, reduce medical errors, and improve responsiveness to errors
  • To foster caring attitudes toward patients
  • To promote professionalism and deal effectively with lapses in professionalism
  • To promote clinician resilience, health and well-being
  • To help create mindful organizations that support teamwork, mindfulness and clinician health and well-being