The January 2016 issue of Chicago Medicine, (Vol 119, issue 1), a publication of the Chicago Medical Society and the Medical Society of Cook County, published two related articles on the Transcendental Meditation technique and medical education. This is the first time TM has been offered as an elective course for medical students in a major US medical school! http://ssom.luc.edu/meditation
How This Happened
I asked TM Teacher Carla Brown how this came about and she explained the back story. Stritch alumnus James Bray MD had sent a letter to his colleague, Dean Linda Brubaker MD, urging her to host George Washington University clinical professor of psychiatry, Norman Rosenthal. Dr. Rosenthal’s talk about the Transcendental Meditation technique and its impact on health moved Linda and Vice Dean of Education Gregory Gruener to invite Duncan and Carla Brown to teach them and their students. Stritch School of Medicine is the medical school affiliated with Loyola University Chicago.
Since that time a team of MDs and TM teachers have guided Stritch students. The program really took off when Richard Carroll MD, ScM, FACC, joined Duncan and Carla Brown and Deans Gregory Gruener MD and Aaron Michelfelder MD.
“Dr. Carroll helped us create a flexible, blended curriculum,” said Carla. “Students start the TM technique throughout the year as they are free to do so and are able to either attend the five classes given by leading doctors and researchers held throughout the year, or review one or more classes on-line.”
In this picture Dr. Carla Brown, Dr. Richard Carroll and Duncan Brown welcome Robert Schneider MD, FACC (second from right). Dr. Schneider is director, Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, Maharishi University of Management, and has led CVD experts and medical researchers from around the country in conducting NIH-funded research over the last 20 years.
Chicago Medicine TM Articles
The first article, Physician, Heal Thyself: Stritch School of Medicine students give new meaning to the adage, was written by Carla L. Brown, EdD, and Gregory Gruener, MD. Students at the Stritch School of Medicine learn about the science and methodology behind the Transcendental Meditation technique in the first TM elective course offered at a major medical school in the United States.
Carla L. Brown, EdD, is an adjunct professor at the Stritch School of Medicine and director of the Center for Leadership Performance, Chicago. Gregory Gruener, MD, MBA, is vice dean for education, and the Ralph P. Leischner, Jr., MD, Professor of Medical Education, and professor and associate chair of the department of neurology at Stritch. The authors conclude with Implications for Patients and Physicians.
Our experience with beginning years of MDED-400 is that students can easily take control of their own wellness by gaining deep rest and improving brain functioning with twice daily TM practice. Attending physicians and students report that TM has added balance to their lives.
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. They can avoid burnout and maintain their enthusiasm for practicing medicine. They can also become the role models we all aspire to be. Our students have demonstrated that we can join them in restoring our own balance, enthusiasm, and mastery.
The medical profession is in desperate need of support. We’re told, “Physician, heal thyself.” But how? Stritch students have demonstrated that TM might just be the prescription to help answer this charge, by making our profession a more rewarding experience while also offering something of great value for our patients.
The second article, The Supporting Science: Multiple studies show the Transcendental Meditation technique can reduce stress, anxiety and cardiovascular disease risk, was written by Maura Tresch, a student who graduated from the program and is now a global health scholar and family medicine resident at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida. She ends her article with this valuable advice: Take Care of Yourself.
By recommending TM we can inoculate our patients against stress and its associated effects. With TM we do not “manage” stress—we get rid of it. With the stress gone, the health of the body and mind can improve. This is the essence of preventive medicine.
I have been told that “you cannot help others before you help yourself.” When we take an airplane flight, the stewardess tells us that in the event of an emergency, we are to put on our own oxygen mask before we help someone else. To properly care for my patients, I must first care for myself so that I can give them my best possible attentive mind.
Click here to read both articles on pages 22-27. The first one describes the Stritch TM elective, launched in 2014-2015, how the course came about, some of the structure and content, and guest lecturers. It contains photos and some amazing anecdotes from former students now practicing physicians who benefited from TM in challenging circumstances.
Editor’s note: The Chicago Medical Society advocates for 17,000 Chicagoland physicians and their 5 million patients. This issue was mailed to 9,000 physicians, available to patients in their waiting rooms.
NPR – WBEZ – The Morning Shift
On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, Chicago NPR station WBEZ’s Tony Sarabia interviewed Dr. Carla Brown and med student Dani Terrell on The Morning Shift. Here is the interview with the lead-in on SoundCloud. Their website introduces this 4th segment of their show: How Loyola’s Meditating Med Students Are Transcending Stress.
The Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University is the first major medical school in the country to offer a class in Transcendental Meditation. We talk to course instructor Dr. Carla Brown and second-year medical student Danielle Terrell about the class, why it’s being offered, and how the students are using the TM technique to manage the stress and workload of their demanding educational program. [Listen here.]
It’s not easy to get into medical school. Carla said 10,000 students apply to Stritch School of Medicine. They are whittled down to 6,000 and 10%, or 600, are selected for interviews, with only 160 admitted. So Dani represents the cream of the crop! Listen to her comments in this 15-minute interview.
PBS – WTTW – Chicago Tonight
On Thursday, February 25, 2016, WTTW (PBS 11) Chicago Tonight host Phil Ponce spoke with Linda Brubaker, MD, Dean of Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine; Carla Brown, TM Teacher and adjunct professor of the Physician Wellness Program; and Danielle Terrell, a 2nd year med student, about this topic. Watch this impressive interview here.
Phil starts by asking Dean Brubaker why the Stritch School of Medicine decided to introduce this course, and she replies that “this is really a no-brainer” for them, ‘there’s no risk to this,” that they want their “students to learn self-care so that they can become resilient doctors, and Transcendental Meditation is one of the things that can help them get there. We want to bring them to their highest potential in spirit, mind, and body, and this hits all of those.”
Thinking it may be an odd course to be teaching at a medical school, Phil asks the Dean how colleagues at other schools are reacting. If anything, she says, they’re getting a lot of calls and emails asking, “Where can I learn this? How can I get on the bandwagon?” She explains, “They see the benefits in our students, staff, and faculty; it has made a big difference at our medical school. This is a core of how we teach our students self-care. And who wouldn’t want a doctor who’s taking good care of themselves, and has more to give to their patients?”
Dean Brubaker elaborates more when Phil asks why the medical profession is so stressful. She tells him it’s “high-stakes work” to properly diagnose, treat, and help patients get well. “It takes a lot of technical skill, a lot of cognitive skill, and continuous learning for the 25, 35, 45 years that you’re practicing as a physician. That’s a long time to be in a high-stakes situation. And it’s important that you learn self-care so that you don’t burnout, that you remain resilient, that you exhibit outstanding professionalism the whole time you practice as a physician.”
Here was the original introduction (PDF), and the newly updated PDF of that show segment. Click the title to see this stellar 12-minute interview: Loyola University Offers Medical Students Meditation to Combat Stress.
Members who attended the July meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Vancouver 2016, each received copies of the Chicago Medicine articles. All incoming and existing medical students at LUC/SSOM will receive copies as well. Both students and faculty have been learning TM, and more will start in the next school year.
On August 22, 2016, the Loyola University Health System Newsroom seemed to follow my lead by boldly issuing this press release: LOYOLA FIRST MEDICAL SCHOOL IN COUNTRY TO OFFER ELECTIVE IN TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION — an accomplishment they should really be proud of!
A similar situation in military education is taking place at Norwich University. See Norwich University, oldest private U.S. military college, benefits from Transcendental Meditation.
In related news: There is hope for family caregivers burning out taking care of their elderly infirmed loved ones. Also read this Excellent article on Transcendental Meditation written by Sarah Klein in Prevention Magazine.