Healthcare providers are busier than ever before and it’s starting to wear on many of them. What I see when I am up on the units are compassionate and caring doctors and nurses with a lot on their minds as they move from patient to patient and situation to situation. They want to deliver a great patient experience, but find the demands on their time excruciating.
When I do shadow-coaching I often hear the same concern from both doctors and nurses. They want to know how to cope with the sheer demands on their time. They want to be fully present for each patient, but have difficulty shutting off the rest of the noise in their heads including thoughts about the last patient, the pager going off in their pocket, and the list of patients still waiting for them.
The reality is that the workload isn’t about to get lighter, which means providers must find ways to cope in order to keep from burning out.
Mindfulness is one of the best coping mechanisms that I’ve seen. I’ve witnessed firsthand the immediate impact it has on those who practice it. The challenge is in getting started because many people don’t believe you can achieve mindfulness outside of a quiet, dark room or a mountain in Tibet. You can. It may not be to the depth achieved in a controlled environment, but it is possible. It is a learned behavior.
Here is the simple mindfulness practice that I teach. Before entering a patient room, pause outside the door. Use this pause to bring your mind to the present. Touch the door frame while you take 2-3 deep cleansing breaths while saying to yourself, “I am right here, right now.” While foaming your hands, tell yourself that you are washing away distractions. This simple practice takes just a few seconds and reaps huge rewards in patient and provider satisfaction.
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