Medicine is a very demanding profession, and it is estimated that between 20 and 60 percent of doctors experience burnout at some point. This can be dangerous to both the doctors themselves, and to their patients, as quality of care may decrease and propensity for medical errors may increase if a physician is over-strained.
To help future physicians manage their stress and decrease their chances of experiencing burnout, the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center curriculum for third-year medical students includes training in mindfulness meditation and guided relaxation. Wake Forest Baptist has been providing this training, known as Applied Relaxation and Applied Mindfulness (ARAM) for the past three years.
William McCann, an associate professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist, says, “The practice of medicine is a stressful challenge even for our best and brightest students. The rate of burnout among doctors is sobering and every medical school needs to include stress-management training in their curriculums.”
ARAM training is specifically designed to help prevent professional burnout, decrease stress and moderate performance anxiety, as well as to improve working memory and increase empathy. According to McCann, 90 percent of the students enrolled in this training rated it as beneficial.
He says, “Research has repeatedly shown that mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques can help moderate the influence of stress. In every stress-management program either mindfulness or relaxation is always included to decrease both the mental and the physical wear and tear caused by stress.”
Obviously, stress and burnout are by no means limited to doctors and medical students. We all have varying degrees of stress in our lives, whether we are working nine to five, serving customers in the evening at a busy restaurant, raising kids at home or participating in any other walk of life. More and more, researchers and health professionals are seeing the multifaceted benefits of meditation and the practice of mindfulness.
We could all benefit from meditation, to aid in relieving our daily stresses and keep us as focused and relaxed as possible, no matter what challenges our days and nights might bring.
-The Alternative Daily