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JAMA. 1999 Sep 1;282(9):833-9.

Mindful practice.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York 14620, USA.


Mindful practitioners attend in a nonjudgmental way to their own physical and mental processes during ordinary, everyday tasks. This critical self-reflection enables physicians to listen attentively to patients' distress, recognize their own errors, refine their technical skills, make evidence-based decisions, and clarify their values so that they can act with compassion, technical competence, presence, and insight. Mindfulness informs all types of professionally relevant knowledge, including propositional facts, personal experiences, processes, and know-how, each of which may be tacit or explicit. Explicit knowledge is readily taught, accessible to awareness, quantifiable and easily translated into evidence-based guidelines. Tacit knowledge is usually learned during observation and practice, includes prior experiences, theories-in-action, and deeply held values, and is usually applied more inductively. Mindful practitioners use a variety of means to enhance their ability to engage in moment-to-moment self-monitoring, bring to consciousness their tacit personal knowledge and deeply held values, use peripheral vision and subsidiary awareness to become aware of new information and perspectives, and adopt curiosity in both ordinary and novel situations. In contrast, mindlessness may account for some deviations from professionalism and errors in judgment and technique. Although mindfulness cannot be taught explicitly, it can be modeled by mentors and cultivated in learners. As a link between relationship-centered care and evidence-based medicine, mindfulness should be considered a characteristic of good clinical practice.

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