Practicing Mindfulness

We have finally recovered from the Big Snow in DC!  I hear another front is approaching, but on significantly smaller scale.

Our PEM fellows attended the DC/MD/VA Regional PEM Fellows conference this fall.  It is an annual event that rotates between the campuses of the Inova Children’s Hospital,  Children’s National and Johns Hopkins University Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship programs covering topics in leadership, teaching and communication.   Dr. Manoj Jain was a featured speaker at the 6th annual conference this past October.

Dr. Jain is an infectious disease consultant, a writer, and a national leader in healthcare quality improvement.  He is a featured writer for the Washington Post and Commercial Appeal (Memphis newspaper).  He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine in Memphis TN.

He led a discussion on mindfulness – which is essentially being in a state of open attention to the present without judgment.

Juliet Adams, Founder of & Director, A Head for Work reveals the ABCs of mindfulness as the following:

A is for awareness – Becoming more aware of what you are thinking and doing – what’s going on in your mind and body.

B is for “just Being” with your experience.  Avoiding the tendency to respond on autopilot and feed problems by creating your own story.

C is for seeing things and responding more wisely.  By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to, we can make wiser choices.”

Our fellows took this opportunity to write their own short essays on mindfulness and share one here:

Mindfulness: What Is It and Where Does Meditation Fit in?

I took my pediatric board exam 40 days ago. We were supposed to get our results within 60 days.  However, there was an email from the American Board of Pediatrics which arrived saying: “check and make sure your passwords work.” They might as well have said: “Get ready!” How am I supposed to concentrate with that hanging over my head? It’s not the fear of failure. I have failed before.  I just don’t want to face the shame of everyone knowing and judging. It’s very difficult to focus with those thoughts drifting in and out of your head.

At the PEM Regional Fellows conference in October, Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious disease specialist and columnist for the Washington Post spoke about a recent article he wrote on mindfulness. There are many interpretations of the word, but he defined it as truly being in the moment, with full empathy and without judgment.  I felt this is great to keep in mind, not just for interacting with our patients, but in all facets of life.

It is not easy to achieve. For me, it feels impossible, as dread of the board results approaches. He spoke of meditation as well. The two can tie in together as there are numerous practices of meditation.   It’s not how you meditate but that the act of meditation can allow you to clear your mind and focus your thoughts. I have tried to keep this in mind when nerves creep in.   I use deep breathing to relax and calm myself, to truly focus on the now.

As Dr. Jain reminded us, we have busy, stressful lives. There are a million things that can buzz through your head. The best thing for your health, your patients, and your life is to simply live in the present.

-Lauren Kinneman, MD

Dr. Kinneman is a first year fellow at the Altieri PEM Fellowship at Inova Fairfax Children’s Hospital who has successfully passed her Pediatrics Boards.  Congratulations Lauren!  She can be reached at the email address below:

Email Addrress:

The Altieri Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship 

Inova Children’s Hospital 

Inova Fairfax Hospital Emergency Department

3300 Gallows Road, Falls Church, VA 22042



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