Being a medical student is a very stressful experience which can result in burnout without proper interventions. Natural interventions such as meditation are preferable to drugs in order to avoid potential side effects from tranquilizers. Mayo Clinic writes that meditation is used for relaxation and stress reduction. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center reported in a news release on Oct. 30, 2013, that medical students are being taught meditation techniques to prevent burnout and improve care.
Although doctors often advise patients to be careful about too much stress since it can be harmful to their health, physicians don’t always take their own advice. Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center say a major problem has been that medical schools generally do not include meditation and stress-reduction training in their curriculum. However, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, all third-year medical students at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have been given guided relaxation and mindfulness meditation training known as Applied Relaxation and Applied Mindfulness (ARAM), for the past three years.
It has been estimated that 20 to 60 percent of physicians experience some degree of burnout at some time during their careers. This burnout clearly has a negative influence on the quality of care which doctors provide. William McCann, Psy.D., associate professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist., has said this burnout can also decrease empathy and compassion for patients and increase the likelihood of medical errors. McCann has commented, “Research has repeatedly shown that mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques can help moderate the influence of stress.”
McCann has expressed the feeling that the practice of medicine is a very stressful challenge even for the best and brightest students. The rate of burnout among physicians is shockingly high. It is therefore McCann's position that every medical school should include stress-management training in their curriculums. Yet, at this time Wake Forest Baptist is one of only a few medical schools in the United States which includes mindfulness or relaxation training in its curriculum. McCann has the right idea to want stress-management training to be offered to all medical students. Practicing physicians should also bring some meditation into their daily routine.