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Education Research International
Volume 2019, Article ID 4021729, 10 pages
Research Article

Medical Students’ Experience of Mindfulness Training in the UK: Well-Being, Coping Reserve, and Professional Development

1Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC), Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK
2Pennine GP Training Scheme, West Yorkshire, UK

Correspondence should be addressed to Alice Malpass;

Received 2 August 2018; Revised 17 October 2018; Accepted 3 January 2019; Published 3 February 2019

Academic Editor: Leonidas Kyriakides

Copyright © 2019 Alice Malpass et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Medical school can be a stressful experience for students, resulting in stress-related mental health problems. Policy recommendations from the General Medical Council (GMC), the body responsible for improving medical education in the UK, recommend the use of mindfulness training to increase well-being and resilience to stress. Students participating in an eight-week mindfulness training between Autumn 2011 and Spring 2015 were invited to complete a free text survey at the end of their mindfulness course. In addition, six qualitative interviews were conducted lasting between 60 and 90 minutes. Interviews used a topic guide and were recorded and transcribed verbatim. We used the framework approach to analyse the data. Students reported a new relationship to their thoughts and feelings which gave a greater sense of control and resiliency, an ability to manage their workload better, and more acceptance of their limitations as learners. The small group context was important. Students described improved empathy and communication skills through building inner awareness of thoughts and feelings, noticing judgments, and developing attentive observation. The findings show how resiliency and coping reserve can be developed within medical education and the role of mindfulness in this process. We present a conceptual model of a learnt cycle of specific vulnerability and describe how MBCT intercepts at various junctures in this self-reinforcing cycle through the development of new coping strategies that embrace an “allowed vulnerability.”