The Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) is an international organization, spanning across 56 countries, that is committed to promoting high-quality MI practice and training.  As a “MINTee” since 2004, I have found this group to be vital to my continued growth of the skills needed to train and coach MI.  I recently attended the annual 2019 MINT Forum in Tallin, Estonia where I participated in a variety of different workshops, presentations, and events over six days.  As I reflect back on my visit to the beautiful country of Estonia, I think it’s important to share these four key takeaways that really stuck with me:

  • Ask “What Matters to You?” (WMTY) – This worldwide initiative was introduced by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in 2012 with the goal for healthcare providers to shift away from asking patients “What’s the matter?” to instead ask, “What matters to you?”  This change is key to creating meaningful relationships with patients and their family members, a deeper understanding of what really matters to them, and a foundation for co-creating healthy outcomes.  Asking this question impacts care by improving quality and safety, as well as supporting compassionate satisfaction of the health care workforce, reducing staff turnover.  Thus, healthcare workers are more likely to see the unique human being they are serving.  Montefiore Hudson Valley Collaborative shares on their website how they’re implementing this initiative across their system, along with videos, tools, and resources.
  • The Importance of Compassion in Healthcare – There is growing scientific evidence that human connection in healthcare can have a big impact on health outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and help prevent burnout among providers.  Providers who practice MI demonstrate their compassion by seeking to deeply understand the patient/client’s perspective and needs. MI supports and gently guides a safe relationship where the person being served can work on what matters most to them.  As little as 40 seconds of compassion can make an impact and support the healing process.
  • The Role of the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) in MI – SDoH are economic and social conditions that influence the health of people and communities.  Poverty, unequal access to health care, lack of education, stigma, and racism are underlying, contributing factors of health inequities.  While these factors are out of individuals’ control, we live in a society which at times, shames the most vulnerable for their medical condition.  Healthcare providers may believe it will motivate the person to change behavior, however, shaming damages our relationship with others.  Providers are encouraged to look beyond behaviors and instead try to address the underlying factors related to SDoH.  I learned a range of teaching activities I will pass on to MI trainers to help them explore knowledge, attitudes and values about social determinants of health when teaching MI.
  • Social Justice in MI – Social justice concepts are inherent in MI.  Unconditional positive regard, collaboration, and compassion are all important components of MI that contribute to the relationship with patients. The goal is to facilitate change by understanding the person’s needs and the impact that social determinants are having on their health.  Effective outcomes are dependent on the recognition that every individual is unique and impacted differently by the community around them. 

If you want to learn more about how MI can have an impact on your organization’s patient outcomes and staff retention, email me at

On left, Cheryl Martin, MA, RN, Master CASAC, Integrated Health Trainer and Clinical Consultant for CCSI in Estonia along with Angelina Moore Maia, PhD, RD, LD, Assistant Director, Graduate Programs in Applied Nutrition, University of New England