Positive Health and the Creation of Thriving Doctors and Patients
curriculum for doctors
Distress and ill-being in the medical profession at all levels, has been well documented for many years. Multiple analyses and suggested interventions through the years have done little to stop this trend of increasing physician distress and the subsequent exit of many talented practitioners from clinical medicine. This paper, which focuses on medical students, in particular, highlights several key themes: a) the causes of distress go beyond individual problems and involve system- wide issues, including ethical problems; b) the importance of understanding and teaching resilience skills to physicians in order to help them thrive within the system as it changes; c) the importance of integrating the science of positive health, from positive psychology, for creating transformation in the well-being of the medical profession and in the public; and, d) that healthcare is a fundamentally human activity involving complex interactions which must be taught through professionalism skills, including emotional intelligence, communication skills, empathy, listening and observation skills, and ethics. A one-semester highly interactive and experiential curriculum is proposed for first-year medical students and their clinical professors, based on positive health, psychological resilience, professionalism, and socio-emotional skills as an initial strategy for positive change. Psychometrics and qualitative analyses will measure and ensure efficacy. The research-based prediction is that healthy, resilient medical students who practice positive health will, in turn, teach it to their patients, resulting in an overall decrease in morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs, with an increase in public and physician thriving and satisfaction.