Developing Empathetic Physician Leaders

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , July 28, 2011

During the first 36 hours of instruction this week, the discussions at USF Health focused on students' interpersonal experiences beyond their clinical knowledge, says Kanchi Batra, 23, a student with SELECT who graduated last year from Northwestern University in Chicago with a major in biology

"There already has been a lot of reflection," Batra says of the initial classes. The other day the students and physician faculty discussed what she called a "lifeline exercise."

"They said, 'tell us what you are proud of; what helped you along; what were your obstacles.' Physician leaders talked about their own issues along with the students," she says. "There was the sense of trust among us."

Batra knew at an early age that she wanted to be a physician. During her freshman year at Northwestern, she "shadowed" a doctor for several months. "It opened my eyes about the daily rigors and stresses," she says.

Batra says she's looking forward to future studies, and sees the SELECT program and her part in it as emblematic of "what the public needs and what the public wants."

"They aren't looking for someone who only has the technical skills to treat heart disease, but someone who can respond to what a patient needs in an empathetic way," she says.

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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