Incorporating emotional intelligence and mindfulness training in modern medical education

Although the study of medicine and the tradition of medical students gaining clinical experience on hospital wards have not significantly changed over the years, the experience of physicians practicing in the current climate has changed dramatically | Postgraduate Medical Journal

preparation-2291000_960_720.jpg

Physicians are confronted with increasing regulations aimed at improving quality of care and are often overwhelmed by their position in a tug-of-war between administrators, staff, colleagues and most importantly, patients. With more than half of the US physicians experiencing professional burnout, questions arise regarding their mental health and work-life balance. Blendon et al. reported an overall decline in the public’s confidence and trust in physicians, which may be explained by cultural changes as well as displeasure with medical leaders’ responses to healthcare needs. As the next generation of physicians emerges in this evolving healthcare environment, adaptation to new practices and regulations will be imperative. Emotional intelligence (EI) and mindfulness provide a possible solution to the struggles physicians will invariably face.

The term EI, which refers to a person’s ability to recognise, discriminate and label their own emotions and those of others, was coined by Salovey and Mayer and popularised by Goleman. Mindfulness is the process by which an individual actively observes his or her thoughts and feelings without judgement. With foundations in Eastern meditation, mindfulness is now an accepted method of stress reduction in Western culture.

Full reference: Shakir, H.J. et al. (2017) The need for incorporating emotional intelligence and mindfulness training in modern medical education. Postgraduate Medical. Journal Published Online First: 06 June 2017.

Evaluation of the Educational Supervision Agreement for Wales

In a bid to promote high-quality postgraduate education and training and support the General Medical Council’s (GMC) implementation plan for trainer recognition, the Wales Deanery developed the Educational Supervision Agreement (EdSA) | BMJ Open

classroom-2093745_960_720.jpg

Results: At the point of data collection, survey respondents represented 14% of signed agreements. Respondents believed the Agreement professionalises the Educational Supervisor role (85%, n=159 agreed), increases the accountability of Educational Supervisors (87%; n=160) and health boards (72%, n=131), provides leverage to negotiate supporting professional activities’ (SPA) time (76%, n=142) and continuing professional development (CPD) activities (71%, n=131). Factor analysis identified three principal factors: professionalisation of the educational supervisor role, supporting practice through training and feedback and implementation of the Agreement.

Conclusions: Our evidence suggests that respondents believed the Agreement would professionalise and support their Educational Supervisor role. Respondents showed enthusiasm for the Agreement and its role in maintaining high standards of training.

Full reference: Webb, K.L. et al. (2017) A mixed-methods evaluation of the Educational Supervision Agreement for Wales. BMJ Open. 7:e015541.

Excellence By Design: Standards For Postgraduate Curricula

These newly developed standards aim to make postgraduate training more flexible for doctors | General Medical Council

gmc.png

Image source: GMC

They provide a framework for the approval and provision of postgraduate medical education and training across the UK. All medical colleges and faculties are required to update all 103 existing postgraduate medical curricula against the GMC’s new standards, with a target to complete the process by 2020.

During our approval processes, organisations † must describe and give evidence to show how our standards and requirements set out in this document have been addressed in the design and development of the proposed curriculum. For a curriculum to be meaningful, it must address many interdependent factors, such as:

  •  clinical safety
  • expected levels of performance
  • maintenance of standards
  • patient expectations
  • equality and diversity requirements
  • strategic workforce issues and system coherence
  • operational and professional perspectives.
gmc2

Image source: GMC

Our curriculum approval process will make sure all of these different dimensions have been appropriately considered and addressed effectively during the development process.

Improving teaching about medically unexplained symptoms for newly qualified doctors in the UK

Yon, K. (2017) BMJ Open. 7:e014720

question-1828268_960_720

Objectives: Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) present frequently in healthcare, can be complex and frustrating for clinicians and patients and are often associated with overinvestigation and significant costs. Doctors need to be aware of appropriate management strategies for such patients early in their training. A previous qualitative study with foundation year doctors (junior doctors in their first 2 years postqualification) indicated significant lack of knowledge about this topic and appropriate management strategies. This study reviewed whether, and in what format, UK foundation training programmes for newly qualified doctors include any teaching about MUS and sought recommendations for further development of such training.

 

Conclusions: There is an urgent need to improve foundation level training about MUS, as current provision is very limited. An interactive approach covering a range of topics is recommended, but must be delivered within a realistic time frame for the curriculum.

Read the full article here

Arts-based training in observation and mindfulness for fostering the empathic response in medical residents

Zazulak, J. et al. Medical Humanities. Published online: 27 April 2017.

face-985982_960_720.jpg

Empathy is an essential attribute for medical professionals. Yet, evidence indicates that medical learners’ empathy levels decline dramatically during medical school. Training in evidence-based observation and mindfulness has the potential to bolster the acquisition and demonstration of empathic behaviours for medical learners.

In this prospective cohort study, we explore the impact of a course in arts-based visual literacy and mindfulness practice (Art of Seeing) on the empathic response of medical residents engaged in obstetrics and gynaecology and family medicine training.

The results indicated that programme participants improved in the Mindfulness Scale domains related to self-confidence and communication relative to a group of control participants following the arts-based programme. However, the majority of the psychometric measures did not reveal differences between groups over the duration of the programme. Importantly, thematic qualitative analysis of the interview data revealed that the programme had a positive impact on the participants’ perceived empathy towards colleagues and patients and on the perception of personal and professional well-being. The study concludes that a multifaceted arts-based curriculum focusing on evidence-based observation and mindfulness is a useful tool in bolstering the empathic response, improving communication, and fostering professional well-being among medical residents.

Read the full article here

Help offered to medical students in crisis

The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF) has today re-launched its programme of support for UK medical students | OnMedica

vital signs

Image source: RMBC

In two new publications it encourages students to seek help and offers advice on how to cope with the demands of studying medicine.

The charity aims to support and protect the future of the medical profession, offering financial help in the form of grants for students facing critical and unexpected hardship while studying. Previously this support was offered in the form of loans, but by switching to grants the RMBF hopes to reach more students in need who may be wary of taking on additional debt.

A new downloadable publication, The Vital Signs for Medical Students, highlights key pressure trigger points for medical students and provides advice on managing stress during the rigours of medical education. A new-look leaflet, for distribution in medical schools, will also set out the support on offer and encourage students to seek help in difficult times.

The re-launched RMBF website also hosts an updated guide to medical student finances, which provides information on sources of funding, advice on applying for bursaries and grants, and tips for saving money as a student.

Read the full overview here

The report is available to download here

Increasing Compassion in Medical Decision-Making: Can a Brief Mindfulness Intervention Help?

Fernando, A.T. et al. (2017) Mindfulness. 8(2) pp. 276–285

hands-1150073_960_720.jpg

Compassion is an essential component of medical practice but is difficult to sustain over time. This problem is increasingly recognized in medical curricula.

Mindfulness-based interventions have the potential to enhance compassion in medicine but this has not yet been tested. This study evaluated whether a brief mindfulness induction increased compassionate responding to difficult patients among medical students and assessed whether trait self-compassion moderated the impact of this experimental manipulation.

Read the full abstract here