Attending Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity By Ronald Epstein, M.D.
When I was asked if I would like to review Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity I hesitated at first. I am not a health care professional. Why would it be of interest to me? Then something kept bringing me back to the email and I said yes. I’m glad I did. Not only do I have many friends that work in the health care field in various ways, but I also many folks that suffer from chronic illnesses and I thought this might be a great tool in looking for a health care professional that fits their needs.
About Attending Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity:
The first book for the general public about mindfulness and medical practice, a groundbreaking, intimate exploration of how doctors think and what matters most—safe, effective, patient-centered, compassionate care—from the foremost expert in the field.
As a third-year Harvard Medical School student doing a clinical rotation in surgery, Ronald Epstein watched an error unfold: an experienced surgeon failed to notice his patient’s kidney turning an ominous shade of blue. In that same rotation, Epstein was awestruck by another surgeon’s ability to avert an impending disaster, slowing down from autopilot to intentionality. The difference between these two doctors left a lasting impression on Epstein and set the stage for his life’s work—to identify the qualities and habits that distinguish masterful doctors from those who are merely competent. The secret, he learned, was mindfulness.
In Attending, his first book, Dr. Epstein builds on his world-renowned, innovative programs in mindful practice and uses gripping and deeply human clinical stories to give patients a language to describe what they value most in health care and to outline a road map for doctors and other health care professionals to refocus their approach to medicine. Drawing on his clinical experiences and current research, and exploring four foundations of mindfulness—Attention, Curiosity, Beginner’s Mind, and Presence—Dr. Epstein introduces a revolutionary concept: by looking inward, health care practitioners can grow their capacity to provide high-quality care and the resilience to be there when their patients need them.
The commodification of health care has shifted doctors’ focus away from the healing of patients to the bottom line. Clinician burnout is at an all-time high. Attending is the antidote. With compassion and intelligence, Epstein offers a crucial, timely book that shows us how we can restore humanity to medicine, guides us toward a better overall quality of care, and reminds us of what matters most.
This book is for both doctor and patients alike. I have traveled to doctors that I can connect with on a level that I consider above the typical physician/patient relationship. I love how Dr. Epstein describes how he maintains focus and compassion. This is a true gift not only for the patient, but for the doctor as well. Doctors experience such a high level of stress and Dr. Epstein explores how mindfulness can help reduce this type of stress. He also illustrates how this kind of mindfulness can also be more effective in care and diagnoses of patients. It makes for more of a human connection which is lacking in today’s technology driven society. Personally, I know at times that I have felt like cattle in a doctor’s office, just waiting to be lead in, barely looked at in the eye, and dismissed in my symptoms don’t follow what they “think” could be cause of my problem.
Dr. Epstein takes us through numerous medical anecdotes where we learn and can understand how mindfulness can make a doctor more sensitive to everything in his medical surroundings. It truly is an enhanced quality of listening and empathy in being a caregiver. These are all things that I find make a better and more compassionate practitioner. I highly recommend this book to anyone in the healthcare field, caregivers, and patients. ( That I guess covers about everyone!) We all know that patient satisfaction helps in healing and providing better outcomes.
About the Author
Dr. Ronald Epstein is a practicing family physician, is a professor of family medicine, psychiatry, and oncology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, where he directs the Center for Communication and Disparities Research and codirects Mindful Practice programs. He is an internationally recognized educator, writer, and researcher whose landmark article, “Mindful Practice,” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1999, has revolutionized physicians’ view of their work. Dr. Epstein has been named one of America’s Best Doctors every year since 1998 by U.S. News & World Report. Visit Dr. Epstein at RonaldEpstein.com.