It’s hard to teach empathy in the classroom, yet it’s one of the foundations of the doctor–patient relationship. How well physicians can put themselves in their patients’ shoes is directly linked with patient satisfaction.
“When I was in med school, no one told me how to do that,” said Dennis Novack, professor of medicine and associate dean of medical education at Drexel University College of Medicine. “You could watch your mentors, if you were lucky. Or make mistakes.”
Numerous studies have shown patients with empathetic caregivers are more likely to stick to their doctor’s treatment plan, leading to better health results. Doctors who can better understand their patients also are more satisfied with their work. And hospitals know how important patient satisfaction is to their bottom line, now that it is a factor Medicare considers in reimbursement.
BY SHEENA FAHERTY