As important as a physician’s empathy is for a patient, as seen by the benefits for patients described, medical students’ ability to empathize decreases as they go through medical school as well as during residency. Possible reasons for this decline include:
1) The implicit emphasis on detachment, self-interest, and objectivity in certain hospital teaching settings
2) Distress – Often students come into medical school with a large capacity to empathize, but when they face the clinical reality of medicine, they may shift to having more of an objective outlook on medicine and using more technology, for instance. This reliance on technology may further limit human interaction. Students may have idealistic expectations coming into medical school but then react with detached concerns and decreased empathy as they face several disappointing situations.