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School of Pharmacy Worcester/Manchester Focuses On Improving Wellness with the Spring 2022 Mindfulness Series

  • The School of Pharmacy Worcester/Manchester's Mindfulness Team and IPE Working Group hosts an introductory mindfulness session on February 17, 2022.

    Professor of Pharmacy Practice Cheryl Durand, PharmD, first proposed the creation of a well-being and resilience committee within the School of Pharmacy Worcester/Manchester in 2021 because she noticed that pharmacists in the community setting were experiencing a lot of stress and burnout.

    With the rise in stress caused by the pandemic, she noticed that mindfulness education was needed more than ever. Dr. Durand and her colleagues have worked on a myriad of wellness programming such as the MindFITStress Reduction program. The program was a five-week series focused on demonstrating different methods for stress reduction, such as journaling, chair yoga, and meditation.

    She also worked to create a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program that was offered to faculty and staff in the School of Pharmacy Worcester/Manchester. “The feedback was very positive and people loved the program. They found it very beneficial for their stress and anxiety levels,” she says. “Also, when you are committing to a daily meditation practice, it takes a lot of commitment, so we were surprised by how many people signed up to do the program.”

    Dr. Durand and her colleagues in the School of Pharmacy Worcester/Manchester are also working on research to track the benefits of mindfulness for students. In one project, students were asked to install the app, "Ten Percent Happier" on their phone and listen to mindfulness sessions for 10 minutes a day. She says that the preliminary results demonstrate statistically significant beneficial effects on students' perceived stress levels. “When a stressful event occurs, we get all worked up and stressed out. If we don’t complete the cycle to let the stress go, it sticks around and begins to build over time,” she says. “The stress reduction techniques teach you how to not feel totally overwhelmed by it and how to bounce back after say, a poor assessment result so that it doesn’t consume you and ruin your week.”

    She believes that it is important for students to learn how to cope with stress especially before entering the workplace. "It felt important to address well-being and resilience so that our students could be more resilient pharmacists upon graduation,” she says.

    Outside of the MCPHS Community, Dr. Durand and colleagues are also working on a collaborative program with the YMCA to host mindfulness training. Dr. Durand has also been involved in the launch of The Mindfulness Team and IPE Working Group Worcester/Manchester, which started meeting in the second half of 2021. The team has hosted two events so far: "Keep Calm and Breathe: The Healing Power of Breath" and chair yoga. The third event, "Mindfulness: Your Innate Superpower," is focused on teaching introductory practices with evidence supporting the benefits of mindfulness.

    The event is on February 17 from 12:30-1:20 p.m. It is open to all students, faculty, and staff via Zoom. For those who would like to join others for the Zoom session, spaces are available on the Worcester campus in Room 240 of Lincoln Square Academic and Student Center and in Room 900 on the top floor of Borysek Living and Learning Center. On the Manchester campus, individuals can gather in Room 210 of the Brant Building.

    The team plans to offer a session on Qi Gong sometime in the spring semester.