Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Training the Next Generation of Health Professionals

Training the Next Generation of Health Professionals

Patients aren’t the only audience for Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine (BHI) programs. For nearly 20 years, the Institute has offered training in mind body medicine to over 4,000 physicians, nurses, counselors, physical and occupational therapists, and other health providers. They come from around the globe; from as near as Somerville and as far as Oman.

Most attend one of the continuing medical education (CME) courses that the BHI offers through Harvard Medical School. Programs range from the one-day introductory “Changing Lifestyle with Mind Body Medicine” workshop to a weeklong comprehensive course entitled “The Revolutionary Practice of Mind Body Medicine” and an advanced workshop on building resilience.

Herbert Benson, MD, director emeritus of BHI and course director, with participants of the BHI Continuing Medical Education program in June 2012

Topics covered in all CME courses include positive thinking and behavioral strategies, elicitation of the relaxation response, therapeutic movement and the latest research in mind body medicine. Participants say the “science behind” mind/body interventions is key to convincing their colleagues – and insurance companies – that these interventions have a place in their patients’ care. As Andrea Feldmar, program director of the Sarasota-based Center for Building Hope, which provides free mind/body programs to cancer patients said, “The one thing our organization was missing was the research, and this course validated everything that we do as evidence-based.” Upon returning from the course, she implemented immediate changes to her programming, and she plans to send two more members of her staff to the next course in September 2012.

In addition to teaching new information and building skills, the program often serves to connect health professionals who practice mind body approaches and give meaning to the work that they do. "The course did much more than teaching resiliency: the faculty reminded us why medicine is so beautiful. They helped us find the meaning in what we do and made us feel less alone in our dream to improve the healthcare system. Only in this way we can truly practice preventive medicine, reduce costs and improve the quality of care we deliver to our patients." Dr. Morley-Fletcher is a Research Fellow in Pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children (MGHfC).

Responding to national trends toward a more holistic approach to medicine, BHI’s newest offering for health professionals is a “Mind Body Spirit” certificate program especially for nurses. It is taught through the MGH Institute of Health Professions. Nurses are educated about mind body medicine, focusing on the inter-connectedness of patients’ physical, emotional, cultural, social and spiritual needs. BHI is also currently making plans to collaborate with the MGH Academy to provide online educational trainings, which will be accessible to a much broader audience.

Perhaps most importantly, these professional education opportunities help to carry BHI’s work far into the future. Peg Baim, MS, NP, director of the Center for Training at BHI, said course graduates “are empowered to return to practice and spread the work in language that others can understand and value.”

For clinicians and other healthcare professionals, this work is incredibly rewarding. Says Baim, “I spent half of my nursing career in critical care, where the reward came from working with a team that saved lives, and although this was tremendously rewarding, it doesn’t come close to the fulfillment I now receive working with patients who learn to save their own lives.” Baim plans to continue teaching other healthcare providers to do the same as long as possible.

CME programs are listed at www.massgeneral.org/bhi/education

Register for the next course at www.massgeneral.org/bhi/education/September2012.aspx


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