Based on research by Mascaro, Jennifer S., Kelley, S., Darcher, A., Negi, L. T., Worthman, C., Miller, A., & Raison, Charles (2016). written by Mara Rowcliffe, MS
Are you compassionate, that is, have concern and desire to reduce another’s suffering? Do you sometimes feel burnt out and your compassion eroded?
Previous research indicates with intense pressure of medical school some students’ compassion may decrease. Academic and psychological demands may hinder their ability to connect with others. Psychologists gave half the volunteer 2nd year medical students a 1.5 hour/10-week cognitive-based compassion training course exploring the nature of suffering. They asked students to meditate 20 minutes daily, guided by supplemental audio recordings. They placed the other half on a wait list.
Results at course end indicated wait list students showed compassion decline. However, those who received training maintained their compassion. In addition, they reported decreased depression and loneliness compared with initial levels and the wait list group. Conclusion? Perhaps providing compassion training and/or meditation can help physicians and healthcare providers remain compassionate towards their patients while simultaneously providing self-care. This type of training may be helpful to all in a caregiving role.
So, focus on being compassionate towards others. Ask about and listen to others’ thoughts and feelings. Express concern for what they are experiencing. If you meditate on their suffering, your compassion likely will remain strong.
Mascaro, Jennifer S., Kelley, S., Darcher, A., Negi, L. T., Worthman, C., Miller, A., & Raison, C. (2016). Meditation buffers medical student compassion from the deleterious effects of depression. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1-10.