Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Legendary Mindfulness Instructor, Lauds Department of Surgery Efforts Studying MBSR in Surgical Interns and Faculty
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D, the universally acclaimed mediation instructor and Professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, recently gave the "Second Annual Ellen Hughes Lectureship" in Herbst Hall at UCSF Mount Zion, "The Key to Clinician Wellbeing through Mindfulness: Embodied Practice, Embodied Presence".
Kabat-Zinn is world-renowned for developing the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, a fixture of integrated medicine, and the founding director of Stress Reduction Clinic at UMass.
During the Q&A following his talk, Kabat-Zinn lauded the research studies of Carter Lebares, M.D., director of the UCSF Center for Mindfulness in Surgery, where surgical interns and later faculty have received MBSR training to prevent physician burnout, a phenomenon defined as the stress, anxiety, and depression that lead to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and self-doubts about work effectiveness. Last fall, her research group published results showing that 7 in 10 trainee surgeons experienced symptoms of burnout.
When Lebares related these studies to Kabat-Zinn during the Q&A, as well as an anecdote about a UCSF transplant surgeon who used his mindfulness training to great effectiveness in navigating an especially grueling two days of back to back surgeries, Kabat-Zinn was nearly ecstatic, saying it was "music to my ears" that MBSR training was being taught to surgeons at UCSF so they could take better care of their patients as well as themselves.
Lebares paid tribute to Kabat-Zinn's pioneering work in the field, saying that without his indefatigable commitment to validating the effectiveness of MBSR thorough hundreds of clinical studies and public outreach, none of her work would have been possible. When asked about Lebares' long-term challenge of making MBSR part of the standard physician curriculum, Kabat-Zinn related several stories showing how he overcame obstacles in his quest to make mindfulness training ubiquitous, unveiling a blueprint on how MBSR could be extended to medicine and, in particular, surgery.
Note: Due to technical limitations, part of Dr. Lebares' questions may difficult to hear without turning up the volume. However, the overall message in the Q&A comes through and is aptly summarized above.