Good piece on empathy and doctors, and yes, it can be learned, and much of it is simple: less interruption, eye contact, maintain equanimity. Quote:
Curious to know whether the empathy course worked, I decided to try out what I had learned in researching this column. The next day at the hospital, I took extra care to sit down facing my patients and not a computer screen, to observe the changing expressions on their faces and to take note of the subtle gestures and voice modulations covered in the course. While I found it challenging at first to incorporate the additional information when my mind was already juggling possible diagnoses and treatment plans, eventually it became fun, a return to the kind of focused one-on-one interaction that drew me to medicine in the first place.
Just before leaving, one of the patients pulled me aside. “Thanks, Doc,” he said. “I have never felt so listened to before.”