Tag Archives: Empathy

Balancing empathy

Nora Salisbury Vancouver, BC, Canada   Street art in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. Photo by Lee Gangbar. I almost fainted on my first clinical day in nursing school. I was invited to watch a catheter insertion. While my gut reaction was to completely avoid it, I knew that as a new student nurse I was supposed […]

Montaigne’s essays: emotions and empathy

David Jeffrey Edinburgh, Scotland   Michel de Montaigne. François Seraphin Delpech. 19th century. Bibliothèque de Bordeaux. The term empathy was coined a little over a hundred years ago and since then its definition has evolved. At first empathy was regarded as a sharing of emotions, but modern medicine emphasizes cognitive aspects of the concept.1 Regarding […]

Scars

Morgan Alexander Dayton, Ohio, United States   Taylor by Lauren Henschel. 2011. Part of the Indelible documentary series. “I see you’ve got some scars here,” the doctor said, gesturing to two faint, thin lines that ran down both sides of the patient’s neck. “What’s that about?” The patient in the room with us was covered in scars […]

Maintaining a moral compass in medicine

Jeffrey Lee Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   “The Doctor.” Painting by Sir Luke Fildes, 1891. Location: Tate Gallery, London Fildes the doctor It seemed like just another day during my third-year surgical rotation until I heard Mrs. W. cry. It was during daily rounds in the bustling ICU, and our team was squeezed around a single […]

Yes, I’m positive

George W. Christopher Ada, Michigan, United States     Early tests for HIV were highly sensitive but often gave false-positive results. The Western blot introduced in 1987 still gave 10-20% indeterminate results. Newer tests have improved accuracy and accessibility. Image from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A quick glance at the afternoon clinic […]

Healing in post-genocide Rwanda

Vigneshwar Subramanian Nivetha Subramanian Cleveland, Ohio, United States   The Apotheosis of War, Vasily Vereshchagin (1871) In April 1994, one of the largest genocides since the Holocaust erupted in Rwanda as the Hutu ethnic majority conducted a targeted slaughter of the Tutsi people.1 In a span of just over 100 days, over 800,000 people were killed.2 […]

Provider empathy: a patient’s tale

Jacklyn Munn Arlington, Virginia, United States   In the practice of medicine, empathy may be the greatest prescription of all. It can provide a patient with confidence, comfort, and the understanding that their healthcare provider knows them as an individual, not just a series of diagnoses and treatments. It creates an opportunity for providers to […]

Grokking: Cardiac rehabilitation by another name

Janice Kehler Chris Kehler Middleton, Wisconsin, United States   Grokking: to understand with empathy “It is a life-saving intervention,” said Dr. Randall Thomas, the director of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, adding that participation rates were abysmal. Only 20% of eligible patients over the age of sixty-five enroll in cardiac […]

Empathy for medical students

David Jeffrey Edinburgh, United Kingdom   Medical students check blood glucose on a patient. On a windy corner of Drummond Street, not far from Rutherford’s pub in Edinburgh, there is a small bronze plaque with these words: “And when I remembered all that I hoped and feared as I pickled about Rutherford’s in the rain […]

Literature in medical school: why, how, and if

Tabitha Sparks Montreal, Canada      Photography by studioapril1982 Do literature courses in medical school make better doctors? Will the doctors be more sensitive, display more empathy? If so, how is this achieved? And what is the evidence it does so? Since 1980 many educators have supported the integration of humanities coursework into medical school curricula. […]