Background : EM Physicians have high rates of burnout. Mindfulness training has been highlighted as an effective individual-focused strategy in meta-analyses of interventions for physicians aimed at reducing burnout. However, there is no established best practice for how to introduce mindfulness into resident education. Published studies have thus far investigated the effects of mindfulness interventions mainly in primary care doctors. Studies involving EM residents are urgently needed to establish best practices that are unique to Emergency Medicine.
Objective : Our purpose is to share the experience gained at Emory in the incorporation of mindfulness practices into resident education. It is our hope that this will start a broader conversation about how these valuable practices can be demystified and understood simply in order to allow residents and faculty to benefit from them in the real world of EM clinical practice and education. We will also discuss two of our current research projects in this area.
Methods : In one completed study, EM residents underwent a 2.5 hour mindfulness training course during their resident retreat. The objective of this study was to design and deliver a novel EM-centered abbreviated mindfulness training to reduce levels of burnout and perceived stress. In a second ongoing study, we applied heart rate variability monitors to residents who were exposed to a mindfulness intervention or active control before a high-fidelity simulated medical resuscitation to investigate their stress modulation.
Outcomes : In the completed study, the mindfulness training significantly reduced emotional exhaustion and perceived stress linearly across three time points. In the month after the retreat, 64% of residents were using mindfulness techniques at least 2-3 times per week on shift in the ED. We have built-in mindfulness sessions in our wellness curriculum that support the resident’s ongoing mindfulness practice. In the second study, we have data on 56 residents and will complete testing in April.