Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Empathy Deficit in Physicians Starts in Undergraduate Years. (Compared with Other Professions)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Empathy Deficit in Physicians Starts in Undergraduate Years. (Compared with Other Professions)

Article excerpt

SALT LAKE CITY -- Undergraduate students planning medical careers show significantly less empathy than those planning to enter other professions, J. Kenneth Arnette, Ph.D., reported at the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. Arnette of Eastern Washington University in Cheney, said his study built on others showing that progressing through medical school, internship, and residency seems to have a detrimental effect on an individual's level of empathy "People enter medical school with an empathy deficit that is increased by training," he said.

The study involved 244 undergraduates, mean age 21.5, studying at Eastern Washington University. They completed a questionnaire that included information on their career plans as well as two assessments of empathy: Hogan's Empathy Scale, which measures an individual's ability to understand another's viewpoint, and the Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale, which measures an individual's ability to feel what another person is feeling.

Dr. Arnette divided the students into seven groups according to their career goals: mental health; education; allied health professions; medical professions (including physicians, dentists, and veterinarians); business; science; and law. …

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