Mindfulness in medical education: Students’ perceptions and four recommendations for implementation of a mindfulness intervention

Main Article Content

Millaray Sanchez-Campos
Doug Archibald PhD
Heather MacLean
Diana Koszycki
Carol Gonsalves


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.


Article Details

How to Cite
Sanchez-Campos, M., Archibald PhD, D., MacLean, H., Koszycki, D., & Gonsalves, C. (2020). Mindfulness in medical education: Students’ perceptions and four recommendations for implementation of a mindfulness intervention. The International Journal of Whole Person Care, 7(2), 3–12. https://doi.org/10.26443/ijwpc.v7i2.248
Empirical Studies
Author Biographies

Millaray Sanchez-Campos, University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Millaray Sanchez-Campos is an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa. She has significantly contributed to the development and implementation of the longitudinal undergraduate mindfulness curriculum at the uOttawa, she is involved with the Humanities in Medicine Program and is a co-founder of the Academy of Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies with the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Institute.  Dr. Sanchez-Campos is an investigator in several studies of mindfulness in medical education. She is experienced in the field of mindfulness and together with her colleagues at the University of Ottawa, she has given workshops in mindfulness for faculty development and has presented at national and international meetings on health care professional wellness and mindfulness curricula.


Doug Archibald PhD, Department of Family Medicine University of Ottawa

Dr. Douglas Archibald is the Director of Research and Innovation and an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine with a cross-appointment to the Department of Innovation in Medical Education and the Faculty of Education. Dr. Archibald holds a PhD in Education (University of Ottawa). His research interests are in medical education, inter-professional education, research methodology, and eLearning. Dr. Archibald is the lead for the Program for Research Innovation and Medical Education (PRIME) and works to support research development, evaluation of research projects designed to enhance undergraduate and postgraduate medical education as well as faculty development in the Department of Family Medicine. 

Heather MacLean, Department of Medicine Faculty of Medicine University of Ottawa

Dr. Heather MacLean is an assistant professor of Neurology, a clinician investigator with the OHRI and the Director of Pre-Clerkship at the University of Ottawa School of Medicine. Her clinical focus is Multiple Sclerosis. She is a Distinguished Teacher and is passionate about medical education. She has spearheaded the development of a longitudinal Mindfulness Curriculum in UGME, has authored a book on mindfulness and is an investigator in several studies on mindfulness both within undergraduate medical education and in patients with MS.

Diana Koszycki, Professor Faculty of Education (Psychology) and Medicine (Psychiatry), University of Ottawa.

Dr. Diana Koszycki is a registered psychologist and Full Professor of Counselling Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa. She also holds a University of Ottawa Research Chair in Mental Health in partnership with Montfort Hospital. Dr. Koszycki research focuses on evaluating the efficacy of mindfulness and other contemplative practices in individuals with anxiety disorders and in promoting medical student wellness. 

Carol Gonsalves, Department of Medicine Faculty of Medicine University of Ottawa

Carol Gonsalves MD, FRCPC, MMEd is a clinician educator and associate professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology, The Ottawa Hospital (University of Ottawa). She is a clinician investigator with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Her academic focus is on medical education, specifically in the areas of needs assessment and curriculum development. She received her Master of Medical Education in 2012. She has held a committee position in Faculty Wellness at the University of Ottawa since 2008, supporting a specific personal and professional interest in the benefits of mindfulness on student and physician health. She was a member of the Mindfulness Curriculum Working Group at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine, which launched a longitudinal curriculum in mindfulness in 2014. She has assisted in editing the course material and teaches in this curriculum. She is a co-founder of the Mindfulness in Medicine Journal Club at the University of Ottawa. Along with her colleagues, she has given well received workshops in mindfulness to faculty and practicing physicians in Ottawa and has presented at national and international meetings on physician wellness and medical education.


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