Mindfulness and Healthcare: an ancient truth finds new meaning

The Wharton School at UPenn hosted a dialogue with physician and professor Ronald Epstein on the topic of mindfulness in medicine. The discussion is illuminating in that it raises the question: why isn't mindfulness already central to medicine?

Epstein tells us that mindfulness is, in a way, an ancient part of medical science traceable to the Greeks who stated that a doctor must know himself through and through in order to treat patients. 

Today, as they discuss, burnout among medical professionals is enormous. "The burnout problem is not just about the well-being of clinicians, but it’s also really about the safety of the public. When you think about that, having a resilient and self-aware and engaged health care workforce is in everybody’s best interest," reports Epstein. Yet, again, the ancient wisdom applies, "physician, heal thyself."

Epstein laments that the medical establishment today focusses too much on others (and at that, often on a symptomatic rather than holistic level) and loses track of the relationship between physician and patient that is needed for optimal health for both.

The practice of mindfulness, now being implemented in countless fields in the West, helps you to know, "your own mind and how it works, how you take in information, how you process information, and what biases you have," states Epstein. This extends from the practice itself into your everyday life, from learning to be more mindful about what we consume, in food or media or purchases, to stressful situations such as those that those in the medical field often face today.

Read more and listen to the conversation at the Wharton Knowledge site.