Greetings from Dr. Ende (Immediate Past-President of ACP)

Impressions of Japan ACP Chapter Meeting 2018

Jack Ende, MD, MACP, Immediate Past-President, ACP

 

I was honored early in June to present a plenary talk on Professionalism and the College Update for the ACP Japan Chapter Annual Meeting 2018.  The meeting was a great success.  The topics presented ranged broadly across the practice of internal medicine, medical education, professional development, and, even, physical diagnosis.  What left the greatest impression on me, however, was the theme of the meeting:  “Mind and Arts as Essentials for Internists:  Beyond Evidence and Technology.”

As Meeting Chair, Yugo Shibagaki, MD, FACP, so eloquently wrote in the program guide, “Patients’ needs are not only for medical treatment or cure, they’re also for relief and comfort, sincere attitude and sympathy, and for compassion of doctors and medical staff to listen to their mental as well as physical suffering.”  Dr. Shibagaki continued, “Medical schools tend to teach only skills and knowledge, but not professional or affective attitude or mindfulness.”

What is mindfulness and how does mindfulness relate to practicing internal medicine?

Mindfulness can be defined as the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment.  It is a heightened sense of awareness of what is really happening.  In our field, internal medicine, mindfulness is appreciating that a patient is sad or angry or confused – and doing something about these emotions, even if it is merely providing an empathetic comment.  It is appreciating that a patient’s clinical situation is determined by their environment, their relationships, and their lived experiences – and then factoring those social determinants into the treatment plan.  It is also the doctor recognizing within him or herself that, at least at that moment, the stress may be too intense, or the workload too great – and then taking steps to improve those unfavorable conditions.

I also appreciated the message of the program was intended to move us forward, not backward.  This was clear from the subtitle:  “Beyond Evidence and Technology,” calling attention to the word “beyond.”  Mindfulness does not take us back, it moves us forward to a different level – I would say a higher level – of clinical expertise as internists.

The 2018 ACP Japan Chapter meeting was enormously successful, which is not at all surprising given the outstanding commitment and energy of the Chapter’s leadership, members and staff.  The program demonstrated just how enriching medical practice can be, particularly when that practice goes beyond evidence and technology.  I am grateful to have been part of the meeting.

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