Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Training program improves empathy, study shows
Studies have found that medical training often is accompanied by a drop in empathy—the ability to understand and respond to another person's feelings. Some research has pinpointed the third year of medical school, when students first become involved in patient care, as the most vulnerable period.
A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine demonstrates that empathy can be taught and that improved empathy can be seen by patients. Medical residents who completed a particular training course received higher ratings by patients for their empathic behavior, while the control group who did not participate in the training showed a decline in empathy during the study period.
Those completing the training course also demonstrated a greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying empathy and in their ability to perceive and decode emotional facial expressions.
View a news release about the study.
IOM to look at modifying graduate medical education
An 18-member committee formed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is preparing to study the governance and financing of graduate medical education with the goal of adapting it to fit the the nation's evolving health care needs.
The committee, which will begin its work in June and conclude in spring 2014, will assess current regulation, financing, content, governance and organization of graduate medical education in the United States. It then will offer recommendations on how graduate medical education can be modified to produce a physician workforce capable of providing high-quality preventive, acute and chronic care and of meeting the needs of an aging and more diverse population.
Part of the impetus for this study came from an October 2010 meeting of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and the Association of Academic Health Centers. The Macy Foundation has awarded the IOM a $750,000 grant to undertake the study.
The IOM will hold a public meeting later this year to solicit and consider public input on future directions in graduate medical education.
Article looks at responsibility for patients after the handoff
Some of the clinical and ethical dilemmas inherent in patient handoffs are examined in this month's Virtual Mentor, the AMA's online ethics journal. An article discusses the details of a specific case and raises important questions related to communication, the limits of evidence-based medicine, practice variation, professional responsibility and culture.