With his “deeply informed and compassionate book…Dr. Epstein tells us that it is a ‘moral imperative’ [for doctors] to do right by their patients” (New York Journal of Books).
The first book for the general public about the importance of mindfulness in medical practice, Attending is a groundbreaking, intimate exploration of how doctors approach their work with patients. From his early days as a Harvard Medical School student, Epstein saw what made good doctors great—more accurate diagnoses, fewer errors, and stronger connections with their patients. This made a lasting impression on him and set the stage for his life’s work—identifying the qualities and habits that distinguish master clinicians from those who are merely competent. The secret, he learned, was mindfulness.
Dr. Epstein “shows how taking time to pay attention to patients can lead to better outcomes on both sides of the stethoscope” (Publishers Weekly). Drawing on his clinical experiences and current research, Dr. Epstein explores four foundations of mindfulness—Attention, Curiosity, Beginner’s Mind, and Presence—and shows how clinicians can grow their capacity to provide high-quality care.
The commodification of health care has shifted doctors’ focus away from the healing of patients to the bottom line. Clinician burnout is at an all-time high. Attending is the antidote. With compassion and intelligence, Epstein offers “a concise guide to his view of what mindfulness is, its value, and how it is a skill that anyone can work to acquire” (Library Journal).
Epstein, a family physician and professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, expands on his landmark 1999 essay in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which called for "mindful practice" on the part of physicians. Here he makes the case for using mindful practice to save both a medical profession "in crisis" and patients who are falling victim to "the fragmentation of the health care system." Citing examples from his own practice, Epstein shows how taking time to pay attention to patients can lead to better outcomes on both sides of the stethoscope. He writes of one woman whose deteriorating health left him feeling helpless; after her recovery, she confessed that his uncertainty was reassuring: " At least,' she said, I knew you were being honest.' " Being mindful, Epstein states, is "a moral choice" for physicians. He also condemns the health care system and a culture of medicine that puts "clinicians in morally compromising situations" with electronic health record systems that are "sculpted around billing rather than good patient care," and increased pressure on doctors "to see more patients without regard to quality." Epstein's treatise should be required reading for physicians, and it is also of vital interest to the patients in their care.