Craving empathy: studying the sustained impact of empathy training on clinicians
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Evidence is sparse when it comes to the longitudinal impact of educational interventions on empathy among clinicians. Additionally, most available research on empathy is on medical trainee cohorts. We set out to study the impact of empathy and communication training on practicing clinicians' self-reported empathy and whether it can be sustained over six months. An immersive curriculum was designed to teach empathy and communication skills, which entailed experiential learning with simulated encounters and didactics on the foundational elements of communication. Self-reported Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE) was scored before and at two points (1-4 weeks and 6 months) after the training. Overall, clinicians' mean self-empathy scores increased following the workshop and were sustained at six months. Specifically, the perspective taking domain of the empathy scale, which relates to cognitive empathy, showed the most responsiveness to educational interventions. Our analysis shows that a structured and immersive training curriculum centered on building communication and empathy skills has the potential to positively impact clinician empathy and sustain self-reported empathy scores among practicing clinicians.
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