Using mindfulness to soothe physician stress
Using mindfulness to soothe physician stress.
Nearly half of doctors report experiencing at least one symptom of burnout, according to a nationwide survey of 7,288 physicians. Symptoms of burnout include emotional exhaustion, depression, a low sense of professional accomplishment and depersonalization – a straining of physician empathy that translates into seeing patients as mere medical problems rather than individual people. Physicians are at greater risk of burnout than workers of the same age group in other professions, the study said.
At least a dozen U.S. medical schools offer formal training in mindfulness, and several programs around the country offer credit-eligible continuing education courses on mindfulness geared toward doctors and other health professionals. Mindfulness involves more than meditation, experts say. Other exercises involve practicing an awareness of one’s body from moment to moment, yoga-style movements, bringing meditative awareness to a simple walk, and narrative exchanges with other physicians about meaningful medical experiences.