The Mindful Shift

  • Tara ColesEmail author


At first glance, the emergency department might seem like the least opportune environment for mindfulness practice. The paradox in modern medicine, and particularly in the emergency room (ER), is that to be effective one must be simultaneously thorough and fast-paced, patient centered, and clinically efficient. The ability to establish quick rapport in order to develop a therapeutic relationship is essential. With no chance for in-depth histories and no expectation of an ongoing therapeutic relationship, the ER encounter unfolds entirely in the present. Mindful practice has a sustainable and central relevance in emergency medicine—it allows consistent calm presence and focused attention in the midst of constant pressure to multitask in a busy, high stakes, and life and death environment. Mindfulness in clinical settings improves intuition, reduces medical errors, bolsters teamwork, combats cynicism, and informs professional and personal growth. At its most powerful, it provides a sense of meaning and connection that fosters healing long after the clinical encounter has ended. Mindful practice is a chance to provide kindness, attention, and a gentle touch given unconditionally to whoever is placed into our care. Mindful medical practice as well as mindfulness in daily life can be an antidote to stress and burnout. It can foster what we all need and want in our lives—attention, understanding, care, dignity, to be heard to feel sacred, and to be remembered.


Emergency medicine ER Mindfulness Mindful health care Meditation Narrative medicine Physician burnout Mindful medical practice ER doctor Mindful doctor Women in medicine 

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Emergency ProfessionalsRockvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of MarylandBaltimoreUSA

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