By Ron Epstein, MD
For many of us, amid the fears and uncertainties of the past year, the pandemic has been a time of reflection and re-integration of our life vision, purpose and meaning. The pandemic has brought many of us face to face with what really matters, and, for many of us, the things that mattered most before the pandemic matter even more now.
Mick Krasner and I, as founders of Mindful Practice®, have been going through a similar process, looking back at the evolution of ideas and programs that we’ve developed over the past twenty years, and looking toward the future. In 1999, when I first published the JAMA Mindful Practice article,1 and when Mick first started to teach mindfulness workshops, the idea that mindfulness could be integral to the quality of care that we provide and our own wellbeing as health professionals was a new idea. We built our ever-evolving programs upon the work of physicians concerned with the relief of suffering, improving medical education and building self-awareness, and the work other mindfulness programs developed for those with chronic medical illness and mental illness, and for the general public. We are proud to offer a rigorous and evidence-based program tailored for physicians and other health professionals, incorporating all of the elements that comprise a robust and effective program: philosophical grounding, emphasis on self-awareness and self-compassion, incorporation of real-life challenges facing clinicians, and leadership by experienced clinician-teachers who are adept at creating robust learning communities in which participants learn not only from us, but also from each other.2-5
Over the past 20 years, mindfulness has become part of the medical lexicon. We have offered Mindful Practice workshops at health care institutions on 6 continents. Over ¾ of North American medical schools have programs that aspire to promote mindfulness, and, as my daughter (a 4th year medical student) told me yesterday, questions about mindfulness even appear on national board exams. Mindfulness has become mainstream.
With the challenges that have developed in the practice of medicine over the past 20 years and the stresses of the current pandemic, we need to be even clearer about our essence and our purpose: we are here to inspire and develop health professionals to thrive and better serve others.
- Thriving refers to our own well-being as health professionals, and our connections to our patients, our colleagues and our own sense of purpose and meaning. Thriving allows us to bring effective, compassionate care to our patients.
- We inspire, train, cultivate, and develop clinicians with greater awareness of themselves, and in their work as clinicians, teachers, and leaders.
- Building community is at the center of what we do, recognizing that mindfulness is a collective pursuit as much as an individual one. We create learning communities during our workshops and communities of practice among those we work with. Communities help us to feel connected and to bring out the best in each one of us while also developing collective resilience.
- We work with health care organizations to promote the attentive, compassionate, and effective care that our patients want, and to promote the wellbeing of the healthcare workforce.
- In serving our patients and colleagues, we can transform healthcare toward the goals that everyone agrees upon – high quality, compassionate care for all.
We have also learned that names, images and emotional responses can amplify the intellectual content and embodied practice of our work. With these reflections in mind, we need a new and more fitting image to represent the transformative and community orientation of our work, particularly important in our current era of fragmentation, isolation, and productivity-focus in medicine. With the help of a graphic designer and a marketing professional attuned to the mission and needs of Mindful Practice, we share now the new logo. The transformative nature of our work, represented through the progression of shadings and the linking of the figures within the image, represents learning communities and communities of practice in which we support our own and each other’s growth. In this spirit, we invite you to embrace, with us, our new name, Mindful Practice in Medicine, and our new statement of purpose: Inspiring and developing health professionals to thrive and better serve others.
- Epstein RM. Mindful practice. JAMA. 1999;282(9):833-839.
- Epstein RM, Marshall F, Sanders MR, Krasner MS. Effect of an Intensive Mindful Practice Workshop on Patient-Centered Compassionate Care, Clinician Well-Being, Work Engagement and Teamwork. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions. 2021, in press.
- Scheepers RA, Emke H, Epstein RM, Lombarts K. The impact of mindfulness-based interventions on doctors’ well-being and performance: a systematic review. Med Educ. 2020;54(2):138-149.
- Fendel JC, Bürkle JJ, Göritz AS. Mindfulness-Based Interventions to Reduce Burnout and Stress in Physicians: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Acad Med. 2021.
- Krasner MS, Epstein RM, Beckman H, et al. Association of an educational program in mindful communication with burnout, empathy, and attitudes among primary care physicians. JAMA. 2009;302(12):1284-1293.