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Training Physicians for Empathy

Ryan Chiavetta, for HealthLeaders Media, August 8, 2014

"In the 70s, if I knew 19 reasons why somebody had jaundice, and you only knew 15, I was a better doctor," said Klasko. "Now the 19 are on my iPhone… so at the end of the day, it's much less important that I can memorize the 19, than it is that I can really understand what a patient is telling me or what their emotions are."

These factors are the motivation behind "The Art of Attending," a group of workshops focused around art, music, and theater. The goal of the workshops is to sharpen students' observation skills in order for them to become more aware of a patient's emotional needs.

One workshop exposes students to art, then having the students utilize visual thinking strategies in an art discussion format.

Med students are asked to react to a painting. If they say that a painting is strange, they are asked to describe why they think it's strange. After that, they're prompted to describe anything else they see. By following those three steps, the students discover 30 to 40% more about a painting than if they had brushed it off after their initial reaction.

Other workshops in the program include medical students sketching human bones as a way to develop observational skills. This module has been run by Salvatore Mangione, MD, an associate professor at Jefferson who has worked with Klasko on the programs.

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1 comments on "Training Physicians for Empathy"


bettynoyes (8/8/2014 at 12:13 PM)
I am hopeful that this will help a "Tad"..