The Faculty of Dentistry and School of Dental Hygiene at Dalhousie University launched the Mindfulness training program, as an integral part of the undergraduate dental and dental hygiene curriculum, in September 2008. This exciting educational innovation is made possible because of the vision and support of our Dean of Dentistry and Director of the School of Hygiene.
Mindfulness is a state of being “that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” (Kabat-Zinn 2003) Mindfulness training “increases awareness of thoughts, emotions, and maladaptive ways of responding to stress, thereby helping participants learn to cope with stress in healthier, more effective ways.” (Bishop et al 2004)
Our Mindfulness training program aims to help improve participants’ professionalism, particularly the humanistic components:
Jon Kabat-Zinn PhD first adapted mindfulness practice for health promotion in 1979, at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. His Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program has been scientifically-validated, accepted world-wide, and used in many disciplines, including medical and nursing education.
Our program is an adaptation of MBSR, taught by Dr. John Lovas and Prof. Nancy Neish. Early in first year, all dental and dental hygiene students have an introductory lecture on the basic principles of Mindfulness. A month later, they all have a 2-hour small-group seminar where they learn and practice sitting meditation and qi gong breathing – experiential mind-body learning, and share with fellow students their meditation experiences & how these relate to their professional and private lives. A few months later, all students, staff and faculty can take an 8-week elective – involving instruction in Mindfulness theory, practicing sitting, standing, and walking meditation, qi gong breathing, discussions and journaling. Stage-relevant aspects of mindfulness training are incorporated into each succeeding year of training.
Feedback about the Program:
“A much needed attitude added to academia.”
“I think it’s so essential to a healthy & balanced life.”
“Great beginning to the year – helps put things in perspective & direct focus.”
“Liked the way he focused on our wellbeing & equated that with our future profession & then later the wellbeing of patients.”
“The group dynamic was open & supportive. The relevance to dentistry became so obviously apparent in our discussions.”
“Excellent! Thank you for opening the door to this journey. We must be able to care for ourselves first, in order to truly help others long-term.”