Abstract ID: 3846

Primary Topic: Curriculum design and development
Secondary Topic: Mind-body (including meditation and yoga)
Tertiary Topic: Teaching, learning, and assessment

The Effect of Mindfulness Practice on Graduate Occupational Therapy Students Perceived Stress and Well-being
Mary Walsh Roche, MS; Nicole Palse, OT student; Alexander Lopes, OT student; Sarah Wolosin, OT student; Ingrid Nichols, OT student; Christine Rigney, OT student; Jan Garbarini, Ph.D., Dominican College, Orangeburg, NY, United States

Category: Education

Late Breaker: No

Overview

The purpose of this study is to identify the effects of mindfulness practice on reducing perceived stress levels among occupational therapy students enrolled in a non-traditional weekend graduate program who are beginning the clinical phase of their education.  

The idea for a program in which participants could practice on their own as part of a virtual community was proposed as a way to increase opportunities for students to learn about and experience mindfulness practice.  As part of this initiative mindfulness education and practice sessions were incorporated into the Fieldwork Seminar graduate course classroom activities.  All students enrolled in the course attended a one-hour "Introduction to Mindfulness" presentation and engaged in three 15 minute mindfulness practice sessions over the course of the six weekends they were on campus during the Fall trimester (16 weeks).  In addition, students were invited to volunteer to participate in an independent mindfulness practice component as part of a virtual community.  Eighteen out of forty-three students agreed to participate in this virtual community and independent practice.  These participants were provided with a brief guided mindful breathing and body scan audio recording to practice daily on their own for 10 weeks.  Participants received weekly email practice reminders and resources, and they agreed to chart the frequency of their practice.  

All students completed quantitative and qualitative pre- and post-test self-report measures of perceived stress and mindfulness.  Students were also asked to respond to open-ended questions exploring their perceptions and knowledge base at pre- and post-test.  Results were analyzed to assess the change that occurred over the course of the program.  Future occupational therapy practitioners benefit from learning about mindfulness and such programs may assist students in developing practices early in their careers that promote well-being and stress relief.

Rationale

The topic is relevant to the conference theme of "Collaboration in Action:  Advancing Integrative Health through Research, Education, Clinical Practice and Policy" as this poster presentation addresses education, research, and clinical practice.  The purpose of the study is to identify the effects of mindfulness practice on reducing perceived stress in occupational therapy students enrolled in a graduate program who are beginning the clinical phase of their education.  It is important for future healthcare providers to learn the importance of self-care and to develop skills to care for their own physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.  Frequently healthcare providers do not seek to learn such skills until burnout and compassion fatigue are evident. Students in this graduate program follow a non-traditional full-time format.  Students are on campus six weekends a trimester and there is a great deal of work out side of class time that must be accomplished.  In addition, many graduate students work full-time while attending school.  This leaves students little time to engage in mindfulness workshops and activities that are offered during the typical college weekly schedule.  Providing students with opportunities to learn about and practice mindfulness in a way that fits into their full schedules will hopefully help them cultivate positive habits and routines that they will carry into their clinical education and into their work lives after graduation.

Objectives

At the end of this session:

1. Participants will be able to explain the benefits of integrating opportunities for mindfulness education and practice into the curriculum for graduate health professions students.

2. Participants will be able to describe the ways mindfulness practice was introduced into course sessions during the trimester during this study.

3. Participants will be able to reflect on ways in which they might encorporate similar programs into their practice settings.