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Mind-Body Medicine Skills Elective

The Mind-Body Medicine Skills elective is offered by the Osher Center for Integrative Health for first-year Feinberg School of Medicine medical students. The course is adapted from a curriculum developed at Georgetown University, offered in over a dozen U.S. medical schools.

This elective allows students to learn various mind-body medicine skills, practice them and discuss their experiences with a group of peers and faculty. The goal is to encourage students to prioritize self-care and resiliency, as well as provide tools to protect their empathy and compassion, all of which will serve them well in the clinical setting.


 Goals & Objectives


Mind-body approaches — including self-awareness, relaxation, meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, physical exercise, art, music and movement — are among the best known and most widely used of the complementary and integrative approaches to healthcare. Mind-body approaches are particularly important in another way. By their very nature they put high value on and teach the power of self-awareness and self-care. In so doing, they help shape the integrative model of healthcare — one in which treatment is balanced with teaching and prevention and self-care are given as much respect as procedures and pharmacological interventions.

In order for students to understand the potential of mind-body approaches, as well as apply them in clinical practice, we believe they should experience these approaches themselves. It is not enough to hear about mind-body medicine and to read and comprehend the scientific basis for its efficacy. Rather, for students to appreciate their patients’ capacities for self-awareness and self-care, students should experience and realize their own abilities.


At the completion of this elective students will be able to:

  • Describe a variety of healing modalities including meditation, guided imagery, autogenic training, journal writing and movement and reflect on the ways these skills can be helpful personally and professionally.
  • Articulate the importance of self-awareness and self-care for personal health and well-being and the importance of maintaining a balance between the intellectual, emotional, physical social and spiritual aspects of their lives.
  • Develop skills of metacognition- the awareness of one’s own knowledge and one’s ability to understand, control and manipulate one’s cognitive processes- through the exploration of mindfulness practice, journaling and self-reflection.
  • Articulate the perceived value of an ongoing commitment to personal growth as fundamental to the practice of medicine and identify strategies for personal growth during medical training.


This elective is designed to facilitate the student’s mastery of the following defined competencies:

  • An understanding and knowledge of oneself, including the scope and limits of one’s knowledge, skills and values
  • The ability to learn independently with a critical awareness of the scope and limits of one’s knowledge, skills and values
  • An awareness of the importance of maintaining one’s own well-being and of balancing the demands of professional and personal life


Students will be evaluated on:

  • Attendance to, and participation in, group sessions (at least five out of six sessions).
  • Discussion of journal entries and experiences will be a major portion of each session. Each student will be asked to maintain their journal in a Word document (or handwritten in a folder or notebook) and submit a copy to the course instructor at the end of the course (removing any aspects that they feel are too personal to share in writing).
  • Students will complete pre and post-course evaluations, reflections and standardized inventories which may include: Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory, Perceived Stress Survey, PANAS, Mood and Emotional Awareness Survey.

 Application & Prerequisites

This course is held during the spring and is open to only M1 students. Maximum capacity is 10 students. No prior experience is required.

To apply, students must submit a brief paragraph by email to Anna Balabanova Shannahan, MD, including a personal introduction and specifically indicating the reason(s) for desired participation and the ability to attend all scheduled sessions. 

These paragraphs will be reviewed to ensure participants are:

  • Committed to being active participants, including attendance of all sessions and a commitment to practice mind-body skills in between sessions
  • Able to work well within a small-group setting that creates a safe space for sharing, openness, acceptance and vulnerability
  • Interested in the concepts being explored during the elective such as a desire to learn about suffering and the reduction of suffering in medical encounters and an interest in exploring ways mind-body practices can strengthen physician/patient encounters and improve patient outcomes.
If there are more applicants than spots available, students meeting the above requirements will be accepted in the order in which the application is received.

 Elective Dates

There are no scheduled elective dates for 2021. Typically, the course runs for six consecutive weeks, on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. A light dinner will be available.

 Course Facilitators

All course facilitators undergo training in order to provide a meaningful experience, as shown through previous iterations of the program, and positively impact student well-being, resiliency, knowledge and skills. 

Anna Shannahan, MD, is the associate director of Education at the Osher Center of Integrative Health at Northwestern University as well as assistant professor of Family Medicine. In addition to the University of Arizona fellowship in integrative medicine, Shannahan completed a clinical and academic fellowship in integrative medicine at the Osher Center. She is passionate about the Chicago community, working to bring nutrition and cooking workshops to underserved areas and has presented her work at the Integrative Medicine for the Underserved national conference. Shannahan believes that health is impacted by physical, mental, spiritual, environmental and other components and aims to address all those areas in her patient care.

Dianne Seppelfrick, LMT, BCTMB, was previously an adjunct faculty member of Psychology at National-Louis University, where she designed and facilitated online courses in developmental, social and cultural psychology as well as statistics. Seppelfrick is a Northwestern Medicine Osher Center for Integrative Medicine provider working with oncology patients in Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and in the inpatient setting. She has practiced massage and bodywork since 2001 and continually updates her skills with ongoing education. 

Ania Grimone, LAc, CH, completed her masters in Oriental Medicine in 1999 and has been board-certified in acupuncture and herbal medicine since 2000. She is also a Certified Professional Co-Active coach and a health coach, expanding her practice to include patient education and involvement. Grimone's personal style of practice centers on partnership with a patient, education and integrating traditional Chinese medicine with modern understanding of health and wellness in a way that best serves every person she comes in contact with.

Melinda Ring, MD, FACP, ABOIM, has served as the executive director of the Osher Center of Integrative Health at Northwestern University since 2007. While earning her medical degree and completing her residency at the University of Chicago, Ring’s passion for complementary and integrative medicine evolved along with her holistic philosophy of needing to treat the whole person to achieve true health and healing. Following residency, she completed a fellowship in integrative medicine. In her roles at Northwestern, she oversees the clinical programs, medical trainee education and research in the emerging field of integrative medicine. Her expertise is reflected in her contribution to textbooks, lectures and research articles, and she published her first book on integrative women’s health, "The Natural Menopause Solution." She is also active on several national policy committees, including the board of the credentialing exam for integrative physicians.


Contact Us

For additional information about any of our MD education programs, contact Isra Hassan.

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