Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine is the first major medical school in the country to offer an elective course in the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique.
Loyola also is beginning a new study of the effects of the TM technique on physicians. Study participants will undergo functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity. The study is led by Murali Rao, MD, and Paolo Nucifora, MD.
TM is a risk-free technique that produces a unique state of restful alertness. It’s a fourth state of consciousness, distinct from waking, sleeping or dreaming. It is not a religion or philosophy and does not require a change in lifestyle or culture. Among its many benefits, TM can reduce stress and burnout and improve focus, learning and resiliency, according to 380 peer-reviewed studies.
“Physicians who practice self-care, especially stress reduction, are likely to perform better as professionals and inspire their patients to adopt healthy behaviors,” said Linda Brubaker, MD, MS, dean and chief diversity officer of Stritch School of Medicine.
The TM course is open to students during all four years of medical school. It includes an introductory session; individualized training in TM (1 to 1.5 hours per day for four consecutive days); meetings with a meditation instructor several times during the academic year; five science-based lectures by TM experts; and a final paper. Students are expected to meditate twice a day for 20 minutes.
Third-year medical student Danielle Terrell meditates before lunch and before dinner. She said meditation protects against stress, like a raincoat against rain. “The stress just rolls right off of you,” she said.
Ms. Terrell said TM also improves her ability to think, take tests and solve problems and helps control her stress-related psoriasis. Other Loyola medical students have reported that TM helps them remain grounded, feel more positive, and procrastinate less.
“We want to bring medical students to their highest potential in spirit, mind, and body, and the Transcendental Meditation technique helps accomplish all of these,” Dr. Brubaker said.
Since Loyola launched its Physician Wellness through the Transcendental Meditation Technique in the 2014-15 academic year, 150 students have taken the course, and other medical schools have expressed interest in offering their own TM courses. Forty-five Loyola physicians also have learned TM.
Loyola’s TM course is taught Richard J. Carroll, MD, ScM, FACC, a board certified cardiologist; Carla L. Brown, EdD, who has a doctorate from Harvard Graduate School of Education; and Gregory Gruener, MD, MBA, a Loyola Medicine neurologist and Stritch’s vice dean for education. Dr. Brown and her husband, Duncan Brown, MA, provide TM instruction at Stritch. They are co-directors of the Center for Leadership Performance in Chicago.
“Having TM as a tool means our students can recommend something that they know will help, based upon their own experience and upon substantial evidence,” Drs. Brown and Gruener wrote in an article about Loyola’s TM course in Chicago Medicine magazine, published by the Chicago Medical Society. “They can avoid burnout and maintain their enthusiasm for practicing medicine. They can also become the role models we all aspire to be.”