Can compassion be taught? Let's ask our students.

Title

Can compassion be taught? Let's ask our students.

Creator

Wear Delese; Zarconi Joseph

Publisher

Journal of general internal medicine

Date

2008
2008-07

Description

BACKGROUND: Medical educators act on the belief that students benefit from formal and informal educational experiences that foster virtues such as compassion, altruism, and respect for patients. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to examine fourth year medical students' perspectives on how, where, and by whom they believe the virtues associated with good physicianhood have been taught to them. DESIGN: Fourth year students were assigned a two- to three-page essay that asked them to reflect on how their medical education had "fostered and hindered" their conceptions of compassion, altruism, and respect for patients. PARTICIPANTS: All 112 students completed this assignment, and 52 (46%) gave us permission to use their essays for this study. APPROACH: An inductive, qualitative approach was used to develop themes derived from students' essays. RESULTS: Students' thoughts were organized around the idea of influences in three areas to which they consistently referred. Foundational influences included parents and "formative years," religious faith, and other experiences preceding medical school. Preclinical education influences comprised formal classroom experiences (both positive and negative effects). Clinical education influences included role modeling (both positive and negative) and the clinical environment (notable for emphasis on efficiency and conflicting cues). Students' essays drew most heavily on the effects of role modeling. DISCUSSION: Medical students arrive at our doors as thoughtful, compassionate people. Positive role models and activities to promote critical self-reflection may help nurture these attitudes.

Subject

*Education; *Empathy; *Physician-Patient Relations; Altruism; Attitude; Curriculum; Humans; Medical; Medical/*psychology; Students; Undergraduate

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Pages

948–953

Issue

7

Volume

23

Citation

Wear Delese; Zarconi Joseph, “Can compassion be taught? Let's ask our students.,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed June 18, 2021, https://neomed.omeka.net/items/show/3250.

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