We've all had those moments when it seems our brain has not caught up with our body -- or our schedule. As Dr. Pauline Chen described, "I had walked into the exam room to listen to this patient; but my mind was a few steps behind, as I struggled with thoughts about the colleague who’d just snapped at me over the phone because she was in no mood to get another new consult, my mounting piles of unfinished paperwork, and the young patient with widespread cancer whom I’d seen earlier in the day. "
This feeling of distraction and stress is the opposite of what is termed mindfulness. It may sounds like a warm-and-fuzzy concept, but new research is showing some pretty concrete results from mindfulness practices that help healthcare providers be present, listen better, and do one thing at a time.
New research on mindfulness and healthcare provider burnout shows:
- Being distracted burns us out. The experience of feeling like our mind is a million places at once contributes to healthcare provider burnout, making us sick, dissatisfied, and exhausted.
- Mindful providers are good providers. The research showed that mindful providers had more satisfied patients, better compliance with treatment, and even higher efficiency.
- Mindfulness isn't as tricky as it sounds. As the New York Times reported, "Even after [a very short mindfulness course], the researchers found decreased levels of burnout, anxiety, depression and distress among the doctors. And nearly a year later, those salutary effects persisted."
Our favorite mindfulness tool? Telemedicine.
Telemedicine -- especially hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine -- is a tool to get things out of your head and into a system so you can focus on the NOW. Consult requests, pending questions, past patients, teaching cases, and future questions are all in one spot. So when that older gentleman or small child is slowly describing their symptoms, you're happy to take a breath, be there, and listen.
Curious if telemedicine could help you be more mindful? Get a guide to the options: