Teaching mindfulness in medical school: where are we now and where are we going?

Med Educ. 2013 Aug;47(8):768-79. doi: 10.1111/medu.12200.


Objectives: Mindfulness has the potential to prevent compassion fatigue and burnout in that the doctor who is self-aware is more likely to engage in self-care activities and to manage stress better. Moreover, well doctors are better equipped to foster wellness in their patients. Teaching mindfulness in medical school is gaining momentum; we examined the literature and related websites to determine the extent to which this work is carried out with medical students and residents.

Methods: A literature search revealed that 14 medical schools teach mindfulness to medical and dental students and residents.

Results: A wide range of formats are used in teaching mindfulness. These include simple lectures, 1-day workshops and 8-10-week programmes in mindfulness-based stress reduction. Two medical schools stand out because they have integrated mindfulness into their curricula: the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (USA) and Monash Medical School (Australia). Studies show that students who follow these programmes experience decreased psychological distress and an improved quality of life.

Conclusions: Although the evidence points to the usefulness of teaching mindful practices, various issues remain to be considered. When is it best to teach mindfulness in the trajectory of a doctor's career? What format works best, when and for whom? How can what is learned be maintained over time? Should mindfulness training be integrated into the medical school core curriculum?

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum / standards*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / standards
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness / education*
  • Mindfulness / methods
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*