Mindfulness and patient safety

One of the big takeaways for me, from today, was how mindfulness practice plays into patient safety. I serve on my school’s Wellness Committee (similar to student council, except we put on events to promote the holistic wellness of the student body), and mindfulness is a perpetual topic of conversation. We talk about it in a context of self-care, and how integral taking time for one’s self is in the process of training to become, and practicing as, a physician (who is responsible for taking care of other people; practice what you preach). Mindfulness practice can mean many different things to different people, and can take many forms. For me, it primarily is about letting myself experience emotions, whether they’re of positive or negative valence, and allow myself to consider how they make me feel. Dave described it today as an “uneasiness”, with which I completely agree.

My conceptualization of mindfulness has been one of self-care. However, it was somewhat profound to think about the role my own mindfulness practice could play in promoting the safety of patients. Allowing myself to experience, feel, and digest increases my awareness, which could certainly enable me to catch errors or be more detail-oriented. My own mindfulness could enable me to recognize biases I may have, or utilize, and permit me to do away with them. My own mindfulness practice could augment my sensitivity to others and situations around me, which could make me a better listener and patient advocate. Going forward, I will think of how my own mindfulness practice can impact me, but also the patients with whom I interact.