Should We Train Doctors for Empathy?

Following a wave of research suggesting the benefits of emotionally attuned physicians, the medical field is exploring ways to cultivate empathy.

How to build empathy in medicine

…In addition, evidence suggests that physicians with higher empathy levels—meaning that they are aware of their patients’ emotional needs and respond appropriately to their concerns—experience less stress, cynicism, and burnout than those with less empathy.

… Mohammadreza Hojat, the director of Thomas Jefferson University’s Longitudinal Study of Medical Education, has shown that empathy levels tend to decrease as students go through medical school—especially during the third year, when they start to see patients—suggesting that the erosion of empathy may be more about what’s happening during training rather than the capabilities students possess upon admission.

By Jill Suttie