The article for discussion was ‘How medical school alters empathy: Student love and break up letters to empathy for patients

Authors Megan Brown and Gabrielle Finn were present and provided background and an overview of the paper which then informed subsequent discussion.

Paper focused on medical students, but built alongside other research undertaken by Gabrielle’s group on Physician Associates, gateway students and widening access students.

Love and Breakup Letter Methodology adapted from Google for more in depth user experience discussion. Explore how students feel. Seen as a useful approach for these and broader studies with wider applications both in research and focus groups but also as part of teaching approaches.

What is empathy (not sympathy and kindness)? Recognise importance in building and supporting empathy thinking alongside Communication teaching in a longitudinal approach. Empathy seen as important in terms of a practitioner’s engagement/understanding with diagnosis and treatment. Raised questions about how to shift the attitude of some students/colleagues away from tick boxing/examining to engaging and understanding the skill needed and the real value this creates. Discussions about how we engage with empathy and why it can be difficult in certain situations e.g. empathy for those who don’t have empathy, giving empathy when we are having a bad day (unconditional positive regard).

Recognised the value of creating a forum for conversation around the paper but also the wider conversation that were explored in terms of the dissonance between teaching verses real life. Alongside this consideration was given to how empathy may be enhanced in the hidden curriculum and learning opportunities. Also how empathy can be integrated into everything else. Also broader implications on our own perception and application of empathy e.g. fitness to practice.

Continue the conversation through our Yammer Pedagogy Journal Club.