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Faculty Learning Module 3

Mindfulness: Implications for Safety, Self-Care, and Empathy in Nursing Education


Women and men come to the profession of nursing through myriad portals, but it is fair to assume that common access to all is that of compassion. The literature is replete with evidence of disenchantment, discouragement, and fatigue that arises through nursing education and practice as the stresses of nursing practice complexity and the continual meeting of suffering accrue. For many, compassion is understood as being with the suffering of another with an open heart and often skips over the reality that, as healthcare providers, we often do not know how to be with our own suffering.

This module is an introduction to mindfulness that touches upon three of the many areas in the education of nurses that can be transformed by mindfulness practice. The capacity to pay attention in the present moment recognizes the reality of our complex lives, and in doing so, addresses all QSEN competencies with the creative wisdom and open-heartedness that is the intention of all in the profession. In this brief introduction, we will dip our toes in the water to explore the most basic understanding of mindfulness and how it might impact the lives of the future nurses we are educating in areas of patient safety, and compassionate care for patient and caregiver alike.

This module builds on Modules 1 and 2 to consider the implications of mindfulness in fostering safety, empathy, and compassion in nursing education.

In the first segment, you will learn about mindfulness as the capacity to pay attention in the present moment non-judgmentally. The capacity to pay attention in the present moment underlies our efforts to provide safe, patient-centered care as well as to care for ourselves as caregivers.

In the second segment, you will learn about research that demonstrates how mindfulness-based stress reduction interventions contribute to positive patient outcomes across a wide variety of conditions.

The third segment looks at the relationships among mindfulness, attention, and safety, reinforcing the need for nurses and nursing students to practice mindfully.

The fourth segment provides the opportunity for you to practice mindfulness meditation as a way of enhancing your own attentional capacity.

Finally, in the last segment, listen in on a conversation among faculty discussing how mindfulness can be taught and learned in nursing courses.


Upon completion of this section, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the foundation of mindfulness

  • Explore mindfulness research in an attentional capacity as it may relate to patient safety

  • Explore mindfulness as both a means of self-care for the caregiver and a doorway to empathy in patient care

  • Kathleen Beck-Coon, MD

  • Tawnee Parrish, BSN, RN

  • Sara Horton-Deutsch PhD, CNS, RN

  • Gwen Sherwood, PhD, RN, FAAN


What is it about mindfulness that can address both patient safety and diminish stress? Are there data to support this latest “craze” showing up in fields as diverse as psychology, education, and business? Mindfulness is intentionally paying attention moment-to-moment non-judgmentally with an open heart-mind. In the following presentations, you will be guided through theoretical and practical implications of mindfulness and how mindfulness practice can foster safety, empathy, and compassion in nursing education. You will have the opportunity to practice mindfulness meditation and to explore how these practices can enrich students’ preparation for practice.

  • Introduction to Mindfulness

  • Mindfulness and Attention Safety

  • Meditation Practice

Mindfulness and Attention Safety
Meditation Practice

  • Video

  • Audio

  • Websites

  • Sample Articles


Fostering mindfulness when teaching in busy clinical settings can be a daunting task! In this presentation, experts in mindfulness practice, Drs. Kathy Beck-Coon and Sara Horton-Deutsch explore practical ways teachers can foster mindfulness and how critical this practice is to the preparation of new nurses to provision of safe, quality care.


In these three brief audio clips, you can listen in while two students discuss their experiences in a course focused on Mindfulness.

  • Mindfulness Meets Home (.mp3)

  • Mindfulness Meets Stress (.mp3)

  • Mindfulness Meets Work (.mp3)

  • Mindfulness in higher education

  • Center for Mindfulness UMASS Medical School—worldwide class resource

  • Mindfulness at the Center: see research page for multiple studies

  • Excellent UCLA bibliography courtesy of Lydia Zylowska

Sample Articles
  • 2008 Lit review in Journal American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

  • Mindfulness in nursing students foster empathy

  • Watson’s Theory of Human Caring and Mindfulness

  • Using mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions in psychiatric nursing practice

  • Mindfulness in the context of a healing practice


After you have reviewed the module presentations and resources, consider how this material is relevant to your own work and experience. The following is a list of questions for self-reflection or for use in class.

  1. It is impossible to embody and model patience, competence, and equanimity to students in the midst of complex situations when distracted by our own stresses. How might a personal mindfulness practice effect how you meet students in teaching, mentoring, and advisory positions?

  2. How might mindfulness practice enhance listening in nursing, social and cultural competencies?

  3. Do you see mindfulness practice meeting YOUR intention for self-care? How might you follow through on this? How might this be transformative not only personally but in departmental/school culture? What are realistic immediate, short, and long-term goals you can formulate in this moment to develop your capacity for mindfulness?


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