What happens when you run out of empathy? – The Arnold P. Gold Foundation

by Sam Schueler, MD

I went into medicine for the opportunity and privilege to serve patients like Mr. P. However, as I gather myself outside his room, I feel frustrated, burdened, and fatigued.  I know that linguistic and cultural barriers will make every part of Mr. P’s office visit take a long time.

I know the severity and complexity of his medical problems will require much more of me in the categories of building rapport and expressing appropriate empathy than a simple…


In medical school, I didn’t experience the aforementioned frustrations with patient care.  The amount of patient encounters and overall responsibility bestowed on me during my clinical rotations never hit a critical mass at which point I ran out of natural empathy and compassion.