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Journal of Biomedical Education
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 239348, 11 pages
Review Article

Integrating Contemplative Tools into Biomedical Science Education and Research Training Programs

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, North Tower Road, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Received 15 February 2014; Accepted 21 May 2014; Published 2 July 2014

Academic Editor: Geoffrey Lighthall

Copyright © 2014 Rodney R. Dietert. 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.


Academic preparation of science researchers and/or human or veterinary medicine clinicians through the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum has usually focused on the students (1) acquiring increased disciplinary expertise, (2) learning needed methodologies and protocols, and (3) expanding their capacity for intense, persistent focus. Such educational training is effective until roadblocks or problems arise via this highly-learned approach. Then, the health science trainee may have few tools available for effective problem solving. Training to achieve flexibility, adaptability, and broadened perspectives using contemplative practices has been rare among biomedical education programs. To address this gap, a Cornell University-based program involving formal biomedical science coursework, and health science workshops has been developed to offer science students, researchers and health professionals a broader array of personal, contemplation-based, problem-solving tools. This STEM educational initiative includes first-person exercises designed to broaden perceptional awareness, decrease emotional drama, and mobilize whole-body strategies for creative problem solving. Self-calibration and journaling are used for students to evaluate the personal utility of each exercise. The educational goals are to increase student self-awareness and self-regulation and to provide trainees with value-added tools for career-long problem solving. Basic elements of this educational initiative are discussed using the framework of the Tree of Contemplative Practices.