Nathan Nolan, "Almost" MD/MPH

Nathanial Nolan is a 3rd year MD/MPH student at the University of Missouri. He received a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology from Missouri State University. He is an avid reader, writer, and practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is active in the American Medical Association and Missouri State Medical Association. Current research interests include healthcare quality and patient safety.

How Physically Altering Your Brain May Be the Panacea to Medical School Success

Medical school is a stressful time, one of intense study, divided attention, and extreme mental demands.  As a brand new third year student, I can feel my attention being tugged in many directions.  On any given day I have lectures to prepare for, cases to read about, labs to check, patients to see, reading assignments, etc.  It’s hard to say if it’s more material than the previous two years of school, but it is definitely more diverse in nature. Naturally I am interested in anything that increases my mental abilities.  Many students, myself included, turn to energy drinks and coffee for those days we can’t get it together.  But a recent body of research suggests there may be a better alternative to mega doses of caffeine.  Mindfulness training and meditation, something that has been known to Eastern cultures for centuries, has slowly migrated its way into Western society and has been the subject of a wealth of literature over the past decade. A study published last year in Psychological Science demonstrated that just two-weeks of mindfulness training improved undergraduate reading comprehension and focus.  Another study looked at incorporating mindfulness training into a semester of classes for undergraduate students.  This, too, demonstrated improvements in attention.  A review of the literature suggests that there are numerous studies correlating mindfulness mediation training with increased attention and enhanced working memory So how does...