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 and compassion toward patients
- To promote professionalism
- To promote clinician flourishing--resilience, health, and well-being
- To help create mindful organizations that support teamwork, mindfulness, and clinician health and well-being
Mindful Practice programs focus on promoting qualities exhibited by exemplary physicians and clinicians that include, but are not limited to:
- Attentive observation: Being able to observe without making judgments that would otherwise distort or diminish one’s capacity to understand. This quality helps clinicians to monitor their own biases, thoughts and emotions on a moment-to-moment basis, developing the capacity to “observe the observer,” and cultivating “the observing self.”
- Critical curiosity: Seeing novelty in all situations, including familiar ones, and tolerating ambiguity and uncertainty. Cultivating curiosity helps clinicians to avoid common cognitive biases that lead to medical errors, such premature closure or ignoring dis-confirming data. Curiosity also helps clinicians to see patients and families as unique individuals.
- Beginner’s mind: Opening the mind to fresh perspectives and considering more than one perspective simultaneously. This quality compensates for the mind’s tendency to consider a problem from a fixed perspective, and instead allows for the consideration of multiple diagnostic and therapeutic options.
- Presence: Being physically, mentally and emotionally present for patients, communicating an accurate understanding of the patient’s concerns and feelings back to the patient and acting with compassion. A critical part of presence includes the simultaneous self-awareness of the clinician's own somatic, affective and cognitive experiences while engaging in the unfolding clinical dynamic. Though physicians have written powerful narratives of such experiences, they also often report that “being there” is challenging in demanding, fast-paced, and stressful clinical environments.
Mindful practice programs offer strategies to enhance these qualities. In addition, participants find opportunities to share with each other their own strategies help them to be attentive, curious, flexible, and present.