This course will enable development of skills that promote emotional awareness, attention stabilization and clarity, metaawareness, self-compassion, and compassion towards others. It will foster feelings of endearment and empathetic concern towards a wider circle of people, beyond our inner circle of friends and loved ones, to whom indifference might otherwise prevail. Deepening our experience of common humanity, and the realization that others (our patients) are “just like me”, enables the arousal of feelings of warm-heartedness, such that upon attending to someone’s vulnerability, empathic concern and engaged compassion naturally arises, i.e. the aspiration to bring about some level of comfort and a growing sense of urgency to act in whatever way possible to promote some healing.

At the end of this course, the student will be able to:

1. Relate to adversities with greater emotional awareness and kindness to self and others
2. Relate to patients with empathetic concern and compassion, not with empathetic distress or indifference
3. Become more aware of implicit biases and their impact on our behavior and emotional experiences
4. Respond to challenging situations with greater discernment and kindness, rather than reacting impulsively and harshly
5. Recognizing that well-being and compassion are skills that can be developed with training, and acquiring the tools – and
resolving – to do so
6. Develop feelings of warm-heartedness towards an ever-widening circle of people
7. Become a compassionate friend to self and others

The course will include didactic sessions, reflective writing exercises, guided meditation practices, small group and whole class discussions, and development of emotional timelines based on a series of case studies that have been crafted based on actual interviews with medical students, residents, physicians/attendings, and nurses. The objective is to analyze these cases based on the concepts discussed in class to determine whether a re-appraisal may occur, a shift in view that may enable a different experience to arise, less impulsive and reactive, kinder and more discerning.
Also included in the course will be two half days of clinical service to the homeless population, in a mobile clinic setting, with the participation of a nurse and a resident, under the direction of Dr. Mary Stapel. This clinical service experience will be followed by reflective writing and small group discussions. This will provide an opportunity for the students to relate the concepts and practices learned in the course with their actual experience interacting with this vulnerable patient population. An important goal will be to assess the impact that a more intentional approach – and with greater awareness of one’s emotional
state – might have on the overall experience and in the quality of the interpersonal interactions.

Students will be expected to maintain a record of their daily practice (meditation or reflective writing), and they will be provided with a rubric to be utilized for systematic assessment of the quality of each practice. In addition, evaluation will be based on class participation and on presentations of their clinical service experience in view of the concepts discussed throughout the course.

Reading materials will be provided during the course for discussions in class. Most reading will be done in class. No reading prior to attending the course is required.


Program Directors: Marcelo Bento Soares, PhD
Telephone: 309-680-8628

Email: [email protected]

Duration: 2 or 4 Weeks
Night Call: No
Students Accepted: Min: 6 Max: 30

Updated:  6/5/20