Patient-doctor communication may arguably be the most crucial factor to the proper diagnosis and treatment of health problems. The ability to stop one’s mind from racing and attentively listen and reflect, while allowing the patient to share their own expertise about themselves, should be an initial aim of diagnosis. However, in the midst of medical training, doctors are often left unequipped with training in the basics of empathy and listening.

Chapin Mill Retreat Center, in New York, created a medical conference for the purpose of teaching doctors mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness teaches people how to remain in the moment, forgetting the hubbub and need to multitask, and creates a richer experience for both the practitioner of mindfulness and the receiver. Using strategies like non-judgmental listening, and avoiding jumping to conclusions, the doctors felt that their awareness of their relational styles was increased and revamped.

The conference was a success, in that the medical attendees felt transformed and invigorated by the methods. However, the largest concern for the practicing medical field, is finding the time and the justification to do things differently. The justification comes from research which links mindfulness to decreased burnout and higher job satisfaction. Finding the time is a more difficult issue…and as with any new skill, ample practice is required!

Despite the seeming cost of introducing mindfulness to one’s practice, the rewards of a more serene, satisfied existence will be worth the effort!

“No great achievement is possible without persistent work.” –Bertrand Russell