Mindful Medicine

Sometimes a trip to the doctor’s office – or even the emergency room – can feel like a ride along a conveyor belt with no real human connection between patient and physician. Dr. Ronald Epstein joins us to talk about restoring a personal touch to healthcare, which he writes about in “Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity” (Scribner).

Dr. Ronald Epstein on …

… taking a more mindful approach to medicine: 

“Suffering is an intensely personal experience, and it doesn’t necessarily fit into any categories that physicians learn in medical school. Suffering is more than pain. Suffering can be worry. Suffering is highly personal. If you ask someone with a terminal illness what’s the worst part of their illness, some might say that they are worried about finances and much less worried about pain that they personally are having. They may be worried for a family member. There’s no way you can know that without asking the patient. We assume that when patients come to us they want a pill, they want their pain relieved. And yes, of course, that might be true, but there are all these other dimensions of suffering that we just miss. And if you address them then patients will feel understood. They’ll feel heard.”