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 My Teaching 

In addition to my teaching and clinical work, I lead research teams devoted to helping patients and their families have a voice in their care and helping clinicians develop the skills to communicate effectively. Good communication with others depends on knowing yourself; mindfulness and self-awareness help you to calibrate and adjust to the inevitable biases in perception and judgment that you might have.

Increasingly, though, I see the skills that we need as clinicians as relational and collective, not merely individual. Patients trying to be active partners in care need clinicians working with them to welcome and facilitate their participation. It’s a two-way street. But there’s more. Patients live in a social network of individuals that provide information, emotional connections, advice, and warnings, not only transportation, food, and shelter. And we as clinicians also participate in social networks to promote excellence in care and our own well-being and survival.

In my mind’s eye, I see every moment in my clinical life as meetings between social networks as well as meetings between individuals. Social networks are rarely static; they are fluid, changing, and transforming based on our external and internal environments. Being mindful – attentive, curious, beginner’s-minded, and present – is not merely individual; mindfulness also resides in the space between social and individual. I say, “in the space between,” because to regard mindfulness as either one or the other – social or individual – only captures part of the reality. And that “space between” is in dynamic flux; it is a process, not a thing. It changes shape, moves and expands, and contracts with each breath.


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