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Maintaining empathy in medical school: it is possible

Journal Article


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Abstract


  • Background: Empathy is an indispensable skill in medicine and is an integral part of ‘professionalism’. Yet, there is still increasing

    concern among medical educators and medical professionals regarding the decline in medical students’ empathy during medical

    education.

    Aims: This article aims at comparing the levels of empathy in medical school students across the different years of undergraduate

    medical education. It also aims at examining differences in empathy in relation to gender, year of study, cultural and religious

    backgrounds, previous tertiary education and certain programmes within the curriculum.

    Method: The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy, Student version (JSPE-S) was employed to measure empathy levels in medical

    students (years one to five) in a cross-sectional study. Attached to the scale was a survey containing questions on demographics,

    stage of medical education, previous education, and level of completion of particular programmes that aim at promoting personal

    and professional development (PPD).

    Results: Four hundred and four students participated in the study. The scores of the JSPE-S ranged from 34 to 135 with a mean

    score of 109.0714.937. Female medical students had significantly higher empathy scores than male medical students (111 vs.

    106, p50.001) across all five years of the medical course. There was no significant difference in the total empathy scores in

    relation to year of medical education. Yet, the highest means were scored by year five students who had completed personal and

    professional development courses.

    Conclusions: Our findings suggest that there is a gender difference in the levels of empathy, favouring female medical students.

    They also suggest that, despite prior evidence of a decline, empathy may be preserved in medical school by careful student

    selection and/or personal and professional development courses.

UOW Authors


Publication Date


  • 2013

Citation


  • Hegazi, I. & Wilson, I. (2013). Maintaining empathy in medical school: it is possible. Medical Teacher, 35 (12), 1002-1008.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84888117762

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2210&context=smhpapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers/1192

Has Global Citation Frequency


Number Of Pages


  • 6

Start Page


  • 1002

End Page


  • 1008

Volume


  • 35

Issue


  • 12

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom

Abstract


  • Background: Empathy is an indispensable skill in medicine and is an integral part of ‘professionalism’. Yet, there is still increasing

    concern among medical educators and medical professionals regarding the decline in medical students’ empathy during medical

    education.

    Aims: This article aims at comparing the levels of empathy in medical school students across the different years of undergraduate

    medical education. It also aims at examining differences in empathy in relation to gender, year of study, cultural and religious

    backgrounds, previous tertiary education and certain programmes within the curriculum.

    Method: The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy, Student version (JSPE-S) was employed to measure empathy levels in medical

    students (years one to five) in a cross-sectional study. Attached to the scale was a survey containing questions on demographics,

    stage of medical education, previous education, and level of completion of particular programmes that aim at promoting personal

    and professional development (PPD).

    Results: Four hundred and four students participated in the study. The scores of the JSPE-S ranged from 34 to 135 with a mean

    score of 109.0714.937. Female medical students had significantly higher empathy scores than male medical students (111 vs.

    106, p50.001) across all five years of the medical course. There was no significant difference in the total empathy scores in

    relation to year of medical education. Yet, the highest means were scored by year five students who had completed personal and

    professional development courses.

    Conclusions: Our findings suggest that there is a gender difference in the levels of empathy, favouring female medical students.

    They also suggest that, despite prior evidence of a decline, empathy may be preserved in medical school by careful student

    selection and/or personal and professional development courses.

UOW Authors


Publication Date


  • 2013

Citation


  • Hegazi, I. & Wilson, I. (2013). Maintaining empathy in medical school: it is possible. Medical Teacher, 35 (12), 1002-1008.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84888117762

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2210&context=smhpapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers/1192

Has Global Citation Frequency


Number Of Pages


  • 6

Start Page


  • 1002

End Page


  • 1008

Volume


  • 35

Issue


  • 12

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom