Should we be testing doctors for empathy?
We all have a story about the time a doctor was cold and aloof during a sensitive, perhaps even life-altering exchange. Fortunately, most of us can also remember at least one encounter with a highly competent doctor who put the lie to the idea that emotions have no place in the patient-physician relationship. After receiving care of this nature, we wonder why all doctors can’t make the same effort. Researchers who have studied what empathy can do for patients are asking the same question, especially now that we know that doctors who are highly empathetic have better patient outcomes, and a stronger sense of personal wellbeing as physicians. They even may be less likely to be sued.
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