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Use hand cleaning to prompt mindfulness in clinic

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 04 January 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i13
  1. Heather M Gilmartin, post-doctoral nurse fellow, Denver-Seattle Center of Innovation, Eastern Colorado Health Care System, Department of Veterans Affairs, Denver, CO, USA
  1. heather.gilmartin{at}

A regular prompt for reflection could reduce distraction

In the frenzied environment of clinical practice, we often don’t notice what we’re doing until a problem arises. Shuttling between patients and tasks may feel overwhelming. When we’re hurried it’s easy to lose focus on the task at hand and to become distracted. When we’re not fully engaged in the experience of each step in our day, we may blindly react to events instead of noticing what is occurring and then responding with a focused approach.

The act of cleaning hands, a simple yet important task practiced throughout the day, could serve to prompt a time of mindfulness to bring a clinician’s awareness back to the present and allow for moments of clarity, insight, and reflection during a work day.

The practice of mindfulness

The modern practice of mindfulness has been described as a process of paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.1 The practice is grounded in philosophical-religious tradition and is meant to help move a person from simply reacting to an event to intentionally suspending judgment of reactions, observing the moment, and responding thoughtfully.1

Formal mindfulness training includes interventions such as daily meditation, …

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