Does Mindfulness Training Enhance the Professional Development of Residents? A Qualitative Study

Acad Med. 2018 Sep;93(9):1335-1340. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002260.


Purpose: In addition to developing diagnostic and clinical skills, postgraduate medical education should stimulate residents' professional development. Teaching medical professionalism is challenging and is often left largely to the informal and hidden curricula. An intervention that might be beneficial for medical residents is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). The authors implemented MBSR as an optional course for residents and qualitatively explored how it influenced residents professionally.

Method: Between 2014 and 2016, the authors conducted 19 in-depth, face-to-face interviews with residents who had participated in an MBSR course at Radboud university medical center, The Netherlands. Medical and surgical residents, across a range of disciplines, participated. The authors used the constant comparison method to analyze the data.

Results: The analysis of the data resulted in five themes: awareness of thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and behavior; increased self-reflection; acceptance and nonjudgment; increased resilience; and relating to others. Residents indicated that the MBSR training increased their awareness and self-reflection at work, and they were more accepting toward themselves and toward their limitations. Furthermore, they mentioned being more resilient and better at setting priorities and limits. They improved their self-care and work-life balance. In addition, residents indicated that the training made them more aware of how they communicated. They asked for help more often and seemed to be more open toward feedback. Lastly, they indicated an increased sense of compassion for others.

Conclusions: This study indicated that mindfulness training can serve as a tool to cultivate important professional competencies for residents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Education, Medical / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness
  • Qualitative Research
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*