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Cultivating person-centered medicine in future physicians

Kevin Garneau, Thomas Hutchinson, Qinyi Zhao, Patricia Dobkin


Person-centered medicine, while valued implicitly, is not always taught explicitly in medical schools or during residency programs. Threats to educating and practicing person-centered medicine include perceived lack of time, stress, burnout and a paucity of mentors with a systematic approach to modeling and teaching students how to relate to patients in a way that addresses them as whole persons. Herein we review how trainee stress and burnout negatively impact patient care and outline a program designed to teach mindful medical practice that may be an antidote to these problems. Moreover, we present quantitative data and a student’s narrative to highlight how to cultivate person-centered medicine in trainees.

Fifty-eight 4th year medical students completed questionnaires pertaining to: depression, burnout, stress, wellbeing, self-compassion and mindfulness before and after taking a 4-week elective entitled, Mindful Medical Practice. Statistically significant improvements were found on emotional exhaustion, depression, self-compassion and mindfulness. One student’s experiences highlighted how what he learned in the elective guided him during his family medicine residency. 

We conclude with a discussion of how the culture of medicine and the training of future physicians in particular, need to take the whole persons of both the physician and patient into account in order for all to be satisfied with and benefit from medical care.


Burnout, mindful medical practice, medical students, person-centered medicine, residents, whole person care

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