A study conducted by researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, found that for medical students on deadline, taking a two-hour introductory class on mindfulness may be just as beneficial for reducing stress and depression as taking an eight-week meditation course.
The study, “Mindfulness Meditation for Medical Students: a Student-Led Initiative to Expose Medical Students to Mindfulness Practices,” published in the February 2019 issue of the journal Medical Science Educator, reported that many medical students would like to use meditation to avoid burnout and provide better medical care. However, they are daunted by the prospect of making time for a daily meditation routine.
“What we found should encourage even the busiest medical students and physicians,” said lead author Dr. Periel Shapiro, an MD candidate at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “There are shorter, sustainable ways to bring meditation into your life, and they can help you reduce stress and depression and improve your medical study and practice.”
The purpose of the study was to explore the feasibility and impact of a brief mindfulness training for medical students and to learn about the perceptions, expectations, and problems associated with mindfulness practices in the context of medicine and medical education.
Study authors concluded that a mindfulness course for medical students is feasible and has potential as a wellness and educational initiative. Shorter duration mindfulness interventions may increase accessibility without significantly reducing benefit. Interpretation of overarching themes derived from the grounded theory analysis illuminates the subject of mindfulness for medical students from the perspective of students themselves.
Robert Lebeau, an assistant professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and director of the school’s Cognitive Skills Program, and Anthony Tobia, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, also participated in the study.