Is Compassion Missing From the Medical Curriculum?

As outlined in the Principles of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association, physicians should demonstrate compassion and respect for human rights.


Compassion, empathy, and sympathy are emotions necessary in the delivery of ethical medical care.  However, in a healthcare environment that is moving toward being more technical and business-focused, it is becoming increasingly difficult for clinicians to balance the business of practicing medicine with the humanistic needs of their patients.


In addition, the persistent indiscriminate use of insensitive and inappropriate language can undermine the physician/patient relationship.


To this end, a team of clinicians from the

  • Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas, and
  • Sutter Health/California Pacific Medical Center, in San Francisco, California,

conducted a review of empathy in medical training.  


Kathleen Walsh Tulley, Editorial Director