“Are we doing enough to ensure there is sufficient empathy and compassion instilled throughout training in medical schools and in later hospital training?’ Should we not, perhaps, be doing more to enhance the length of contact and continuity, when it comes to relationships between professionals and patients? It appears to many inside and outside the health-care professions that our capacity for providing ‘the human touch’ has steadily decreased as science and technology have improved. Surely, it should not be a case of ‘either/or’? Thus, it seems to me that good medicine should aim for a better balance between what science and technology may demand and what patients may actually want and need.
One senior professional said to me that what seems to go missing all too easily is the art of thoroughly understanding the patient’s narrative. He said that we need to equip our health professionals with skills (and a desire) to listen and honour what is being said, and – importantly – what is not said to them. Only in this way can they develop a thorough understanding of the patient’s story. This understanding is necessary to develop healing empathy and help the patient find their own particular path towards better health. This should not only help the patient, but should also enable more health professionals to connect and engage in a much more meaningful and professionally satisfying way.
If, however, we are to create such a culture of better care, then we cannot depend forever upon ‘heroes’ at the frontline. Better care and compassion require systems which support the caring ambition of every health service organization, every health service leader and every clinician. If we really want to change things, then we must better support and encourage those organizations, leaders and frontline clinicians, who are fully committed to going the last mile in the care of their patients. “ so says HRH The Prince of Wales in an editorial published in Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine last month.
You can read the full text at… Integrated Health and Post-Modern Medicine
1 J R Soc Med 2012: 1 –3. DOI 10.1258/jrsm.2012.12k095