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Mindful : October 2014
and the effect has been sig nificant. People are kinder to each other. Staff meetings are more personal, less rote. When they talk about patients, they go around the table and share their reflec- tions. “All of a sudden you’re not doing details and numbers,” says Dr. Brown. “ You’re asking, ‘What about this person touched you? What did you lea rn? ’ It brings a different level of mea ning to our meetings. By checking in, we sta rt think- ing differently. Little things can change the whole tone of a meeting, and cha nge the culture. “I’m not sure how anyone can really do this work on an ongoing basis without some form of mindfulness,” she added, “because it allows us to be so present with people in vulnerable moments.” In early spring, a group of doctors gathered in rural New York to attend a four-day workshop called Mindful Prac- tice: Enhancing Quality of Care, Quality of Caring and Resilience. Sponsored by the University of Rochester Medical Center, the program had drawn 51 health professionals to the Chapin Mill Retreat Center, seeking to reduce their stress and improve their care of patients. Some of the participants had traveled from as far as Israel and Saudi Arabia. There was a range of ages and specialists, from emergency room physicians to transpla nt surgeons to pediatricia ns. One of those physicians was Dr. Jodi Jacobson. After her life came apa rt, Dr. Jacobson took a mindfulness course called Emotional Brain Training. Now, she and the other participants at the retreat were deepening their knowledge and skills. “I hope they feel empowered to take what they’ve learned back to their institutions,” said Dr. Epstein, one of four physicians teaching the workshop. On Friday morning, a dozen partic- ipants met in the yoga room, a large sunlit space with vertical windows and hardwood floors. Some sat in straight- back chairs, while others sat cross- legged on mats or cushions. Dr. Krasner, who was barefoot and wearing a black T-shirt a nd jea ns, talked about burnout and coping methods. He asked them to break into small groups and take turns leading a meditation exercise. Imme- diately, ner vous energy filled the room. About half the doctors had taken a Doctors’ role as experts can lead them to be biased, arrogant, and judgmental—and that needs to be examined. 5xmore likely to abuse prescription drugs Physicians are as susceptible to alcohol or drug abuse as the general public, however they’re five times more prone to abusing prescription drugs. A 2009 study by the Mayo Clinic obser ved that substance addiction among physi- cians is typically advanced before identi- fication and intervention because doctors want to protect their image. In the five-year study of 904 physicians enrolled in state physician health programs, alcohol was the primar y drug of abuse in 50.3% of the physicians, opioids in 35.9% , stimulants in 7.9% , and other substances in 5.9% . 56 mindful October 2014