US medical trainees learning to meditate

Medical students in the US have been given meditation training to help them manage their stress better when they begin their professional careers.

The special section of the curriculum at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has been described in the autumn issue of Annals of Behavioral Science and Medical Education.

All third-year students have been taking part in the training, which involves learning more about mindfulness meditation and guided relaxation.

The programme – known as Applied Relaxation and Applied Mindfulness – was made possible after a grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Associate professor of family and community medicine William McCann said: “In every stress management programme, either mindfulness or relaxation is always included to decrease both the mental and physical wear and tear caused by stress.

It is estimated that between 20 and 60 per cent of doctors will suffer from burnout at some point in their professional lives, which can impact on care quality levels.

Another potential issue is that physicians can be less compassionate and have less empathy for patients if they feel stressed themselves.

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