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Report Looks At Student’s Level Of Empathy Throughout Medical School

KYW’s Medical Reports Sponsored By Independence Blue Cross

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  Over the years there have been numerous studies which have looked at medical students and the training that they receive. These studies have said that students become less empathetic as the years of medical school go by.

Now there is a new report in the journal medical education conducted by sociologists at the University of Chicago and they say that one of the most important measures of empathy called cognitive empathy may actually improve.

Cognitive empathy is the ability to recognize and understand another person’s experience and to communicate and confirm that understanding and finally — to act in an appropriate and helpful manner.

The key aspect is the sharing of emotions.

Using a special test to measure this form of empathy the scientists found that medical students showed a greater sensitivity to facial expressions of pain and actually were quite empathetic.

Essentially what they found is that some skills improved during training and others got worse.

The bottom line is that there needs to be a consistent effort to try and help build empathy during these training years to help the patient’s.

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