Compassion fatigue starts in medical school.
A recent study by Daniel Chen et al found that students with higher empathy scores tended to choose more people-oriented specialties, such as primary care and psychiatry, over more technical specialties like surgery or pathology. ..
At present, the battle to sustain doctors’ empathy in the face of compassion fatigue is already being lost during training. If we want more doctors at the front-line of patient care, then schools need to provide a learning environment that develops and sustains empathy during medical training, especially in the clinical years.
By Gillian Ragsdale