Recently, I was asked if mindfulness works for helping hospital staff. Mindfulness was developed by a doctor, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, for hospital patients, and it just so happened that much of the hospital staff benefited from the training as well. The answer is yes, and we are seeing some amazing results for this type of training. Research shows that 54% of doctors hit burnout with their jobs in the first ten years of their practice. Many of them quit, become ill or become complacent because of this problem. This same problem is one that is familiar in high-pressure jobs, and more so within the military. It is a problem that can be solved or drastically reduced.
Hospitals have unique environments with many different challenges for staff to combat. Problems include constant movement from one patient to another with very little time in between each patient. Many nurses and physicians report that there’s no time to transition between one patient and the next, it’s putting one fire out only to be met with two more. Hospital staff feel that they take care of people all day, and many times they put their own needs aside. Working long hours, training new doctors, emotional exhaustion, conflict management and many other issues may contribute to problems in hospitals, but there is a way that a large portion of these issues can be reduced or eliminated.
Mindfulness training with performance enhancement techniques and resilience skills are giving hospitals and doctors significant positive results. Why? Many reasons, but some have to do with being deliberate with your attention because how we use our attention can have massive effects on our bodies and our minds. Stress is often times a matter of perception, but perception can be reality. By changing the way you perceive situations you can change the stress many times automatically. The mind gets overloaded and mistakenly thinks it needs to always be busy, running a million miles an hour, or worse yet, it can mistakenly perceive a simple situation as traumatic. Hospitals do have traumatic situations, but if one handles their experience with compassion, focus and awareness many health care professionals bounce back from the challenges quicker and healthier, learning the lessons we need to learn, but not carrying unnecessary burdens. Mindfulness combined with resilience skills can create this kind of impact and training!