Mindfulness in medical education: Students’ perceptions and four recommendations for implementation of a mindfulness intervention
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Background: Faculties of Medicine around the globe have implemented mindfulness-based curricula to deal with medical student’s burnout, anxiety and depression. The purpose of this qualitative study is to assess students’ perception of a mandatory mindfulness intervention and their recommendations for further curricula development and implementation.
Methods: Third-year medical students participated in a mandatory three-hour mindfulness workshop embedded in their family medicine academic week. Eleven students consented to two interviews which explored their perceptions of mindfulness and the workshop in relation to their personal and professional wellbeing as well as their views for the implementation of a longitudinal mindfulness curriculum.
Results: Student and institutional benefits and barriers relating to the curriculum were identified. Student’s benefits included positive changes in stress, self-awareness and personally that also translated into self-reported better patient care. Students reported lack of time, forgetting to practice and lack of knowledge about mindfulness as barriers. Institutional pride for their support of student wellness and an overfilled curriculum, were the major institutional benefits and barriers respectively, to the expansion of this curriculum. Among developing an implementing a longitudinal mindfulness curriculum, we found four key features to consider: Firstly to engage the stakeholders; secondly, to incorporate the mindfulness intervention into the curriculum with both a mandatory and elective component; thirdly, to emphasize the clinical implications of the mindfulness intervention and fourthly, to have protected time for wellness interventions.
Conclusions: Introducing mindfulness into the undergraduate medical school curriculum through this workshop resulted in perceived personal, institutional and professional benefits. For faculties of medicine that want to implement a mindfulness intervention, we found four key components for implementing a mindfulness intervention in their institutions. Further research is needed to better quantify the benefits and to identify ways to manage barriers at both individual and institutional levels.
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