Mindful Veterinary Practice (MVP), which is offered as a third-year elective course at the WCVM, is the first formal mindfulness-based stress reduction course to be taught in a veterinary school curriculum.
The MVP course is based on the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and the Mindful Practice (MP) programs. The MBSR program was developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979 as a practical way to foster and facilitate life balance and self-care in health care professionals. More than 100 North American medical schools integrate various forms of MBSR programs into their curricula and continuing education programs.
The MP program, developed by medical faculty of the University of Rochester Medical School, is a series of modules presented to third-year medical students and residents. The MVP course follows the curriculum of an MBSR program customized for veterinary students and veterinarians by drawing on components of the Mindful Practice program.
The practice of “mindfulness” refers to a quality of awareness that includes the ability to pay attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.
Mindfulness practice lowers reactivity to challenging experiences and improves the ability to notice, observe, and experience bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings even though they may be unpleasant (meta-awareness). It also improves the ability to act with awareness and attention, as opposed to being on “autopilot."
The documented benefits of such programs for health care students and professionals include:
After participating in the MVP course, veterinary students show significantly improved self-reported trait mindfulness, as well as reduced rumination and enhanced attentional functioning. Our research result suggests that mindfulness training for veterinary students and veterinarians may help protect against attentional-lapses in clinical practice and protect against emotional states that may lead to burnout in our highly stressful profession.
Trisha Dowling, DVM,
MSc, DACVIM (LAIM) & DACVCP
Western College of Veterinary Medicine
52 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4