The Empathy Exams – A MEDICAL ACTOR WRITES HER OWN SCRIPT

My job title is Medical Actor, which means I play sick. I get paid by the hour. Medical students guess my maladies. I’m called a Standardized Patient, which means I act toward the norms of my disorders. I’m standardized-lingo SP for short. I’m fluent in the symptoms of preeclampsia and asthma and appendicitis. I play a mom whose baby has blue lips.

Empathy isn’t just remembering to say
 “That must really be hard

In this sense, empathy isn’t measured just by checklist item 31—“Voiced empathy for my situation/problem”—but by every item that gauges how thoroughly my experience has been imagined.  Empathy isn’t just remembering to say That must really be hard, it’s figuring out how to bring difficulty into the light so it can be seen at all.  Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing

by Leslie Jamison