Physicians are trained with the explicit mandate of addressing suffering with compassion, yet mainstream medical training and the medical literature are largely silent about how to accomplish this. Through contemplative practice, written and oral narratives, deep listening, appreciative inquiry, and dialogue, our mindful practice programs were designed to enhance clinicians’ self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-regulation during everyday practice with the interdependent goals of providing attentive clinical care, enacting compassion in everyday practice, and enhancing clinicians’ own resilience and well-being. Research published about our yearlong and intensive workshop programs in mindful practice indicate that they reduce physicians’ burnout and distress, promote greater resilience, result in a more empathic and patient-centered approach to clinical care, and enhance physicians’ attentiveness and mental stability. Yet, important challenges remain. Building on our published data and recent findings, the session will address external and intrapersonal challenges to providing compassionate mindful medical care.

Ronald Epstein

University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry