A third-year nursing student at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, will test her idea that teaching future physicians and nurses to be more attentive and resilient will increase efficiency, reduce redundancy and boost compassion at the bedside, according to a news release.
Student Jane Muir is working with her mentor, Susan Bauer-Wu, PhD, RN, FAAN, Tussi and John Kluge Professor, and U.Va. School of Medicine student partner J. Andy Starr, to develop a series of workshops covering mindfulness, communication, wisdom and self-care for 30 nursing and medical students. They hope the insights participants gain from the training will help them be peer role models and have a lasting effect on their clinical practices.
The program will test Muir’s theory that learning specific ways to be attentive and tune into others will engage certain neural pathways and augment the quality and efficiency of developing clinicians’ care.[pullquote]“By introducing clinicians early on to self-reflection and mind-body practices, we think they’ll be more tuned in, less easy to distract, less emotionally reactive and stressed, and more present — and ultimately less inclined to overuse things like medication and tests and able perhaps to get to the root of problems determined by more subtle cues.”[/pullquote]
“Overuse, including redundant and unnecessary tests, procedures and medications, in the clinical setting often stems from a lack of being fully attentive, due to competing demands, our fast-paced, high-tech culture, personal and professional stress, limited time with patients and heavy workloads,” Muir said in the release. “By introducing clinicians early on to self-reflection and mind-body practices, we think they’ll be more tuned in, less easy to distract, less emotionally reactive and stressed, and more present — and ultimately less inclined to overuse things like medication and tests and able perhaps to get to the root of problems determined by more subtle cues.”
The program will include four three-hour sessions at the U.Va. School of Nursing every other weekend for eight weeks, ending with a final all-day retreat at U.Va.’s Morven Farm. Faculty from the U.Va. School of Nursing’s Compassionate Care Initiative will lead the program, with faculty from the School of Medicine’s Center for Appreciative Practice and the Mindfulness Center. Participants also will complete a mini-project related to resiliency and overuse to use in their daily interactions with patients and colleagues.
Muir, who was named one of RightCare Alliance’s 11 Young Innovator grantees by the Lown Institute in December 2014, said she thinks teaching the next generation of clinicians about the primacy of attentiveness will enable them to truly tune into patients — and deliver leaner, more efficient, compassionate care.
In early 2014, the Lown Institute — a Boston-based think tank focused on improving healthcare — asked for proposals focusing on ways to improve quality of care, boost efficiency and reduce medical redundancy and waste. Lown received 80 applications from 200 people in 25 states, mostly from medical faculty, residents and students. Muir was the only nursing student and the only undergraduate to receive funding.
As a Young Innovator grantee, Muir will contribute to a Lown blog, create a video and present her findings at two upcoming conferences. The $7,350 grant also offers her a chance to demystify what she calls “the M-word,” which often flummoxes clinicians who might feel put off by the seemingly esoteric and unreachable ideas of meditation and mindfulness.
“I think people get overwhelmed when they hear about resilience and contemplation,” Muir said in the release, “but our hope is to bring caregivers back to the basics and away from this go-go-go society, where auto-pilot is the rule and not the exception. We want to change the culture of healthcare, form new habits in the brain, and make people more compassionate to themselves and their patients.”