Empathy is often seen as a nice — but nonessential — part of medicine. Indeed, for surgeons in the operating room, seeing the patient as a human being may actually be an obstacle to successful performance. At the bedside, however, doctors who are more empathetic actually have healthier patients, according to a new study published in the journal Academic Medicine….
The patients of the doctors who scored highest in this type of empathy were 16% more likely to have good control over their blood sugar and 15% more likely to have better cholesterol levels than patients of physicians with the lowest empathy scores. Prior research has found that patients of highly empathetic doctors are more likely to follow their treatment plans, which could account for these differences.
My rule has always been to find a doctor who was not only a great doctor but also one who was understanding and “nice”.
As a nurse, competence is my first requirement. My doctor needs to be a good clinician. Second, I look for empathy.
If my doctor could have both these qualities that would be even better.
In my experience, surgeons sometimes lack bedside manner and that is fine with me as long as they are great in the operating room.
So it seems that now there is actually evidence that backs up what I have used as my criteria.
That is a good feeling.