Other simple techniques included positivity practice, a short writing exercise describing a stressful experience and the inner qualities that helped get through the stress, and group discussions. Everyone develops their own coping techniques that others can use.
“One of the practical things I heard about and incorporated was just taking a breath before you go into the patient room,” Dr. Rosdahl said.
“When you touch the door handle or start to knock, just take a breath and feel the wood, feel the handle, let it pull you out of whatever you were thinking about,” she said. “It is powerful—that little pause that reminds you to pay attention to the patient even though you have a thousand things waiting for your attention.”
The training program took just about an hour once a month, something that might fit into the harried life of a resident. New physicians learn habits and thought patterns for a lifetime during residency. The right habits can build a successful career.
Dr. Rosdahl created a mindfulness program for resident-physicians with Karen Kingsolver, PhD, assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, as well as community and family medicine, Duke University. The pair piloted the program with ophthalmology residents, and then expanded to other specialties.