Empathy: Lost or Found in Medical Education?

Sonal Singh, MD

In This Article

Can Empathy Be Learned?

Although research findings on the effects of educational remedies to promote empathy are inconclusive, the majority of these studies report a positive result from targeted empathy training.[3] Feighny and colleagues[12] found that training in the early years of medical school enhances behavioral empathy among students and improves their communication skills. Wilkes and coworkers[13] reported an increase in medical students' empathy when they had their own personal hospitalization experiences. On the other hand, Markham[14] reported that a behavioral science course in medical school did not change students' orientations toward the patient as a person. These inconsistent results may be due to the nonspecific measure of empathy used in different studies or a lack of specificity in educational objectives.


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