Mindfulness, or voluntary, non-judgmental awareness in the moment is a human trait which can be developed. It is an essential step In the development of empathy, which is in turn necessary to be compassionate.
I would like to propose a radical idea: empathy and compassion should be viewed as essential conditions for employment as a physician
And yet we see that medical education consistently damages medical students diminishing measures of empathy and thereby compassion in a stepwise fashion from years 1 to 4. The first to bear the brunt of this are the students themselves with rates of depression and burnout that approach 50%; as many as 10% consider suicide and indeed physician suicide is a silent epidemic. Not unexpectedly this toxic mash-up has an pervasive negative effect on others including families, coworkers and patients.
One medical school seems to fully understand this: Georgetown University. At Georgetown, dean Ray Mitchell, Nancy Haradzuk and Aviad Haramati have developed an 11 week course in mind-body skills for 1st year medical students and similar programs for faculty. Mindfulness permeates the culture at Georgetown, and Georgetown students get through their education with their empathy,their compassion and their essential humanity intact. They have the data to prove it.
I just checked the US News rankings of medical schools and Georgetown is listed at 48th. Until a metric is added for the effect of the education on empathy and capacity for compassion of the graduates I strongly disagree.
I think that Georgetown is the best medical school in the country
Thanks for reading,