Humanism Should Be Taught in Medical Practice

Modern Health Care Environment Challenges Humanistic Practice
Modern Health Care Environment Challenges Humanistic Practice

(HealthDay News) — Humanism, defined as empathy, altruism, and compassion, should be learned and taught in medical practice, according to an article published online Oct. 5 in Pediatrics.

Noting that patients cared for by humanistic clinicians have better outcomes, Jennifer Plant, M.D., M.Ed., from the University of California Davis, and colleagues discuss the importance of modeling and teaching humanistic values.

The authors note that today's health care environment poses challenges to humanistic practice. Recognizing these challenges, it is important to maintain the focus on humanistic practice. The attitudes of highly humanistic physicians include humility, curiosity, and a desire to maintain high standards of behavior. The practice and teaching of humanism can be conceptualized using a framework that incorporates three steps: identifying perspectives of the patient, their family, and the health care provider; reflecting on how these perspectives converge or conflict; and choosing to act altruistically. Numerous teaching strategies that build on this framework can promote humanism in daily practice.

By using this "framework on the 'habit' of humanism and the various educational strategies outlined here, a great clinical teacher can channel his or her innermost humanistic attributes as a role model and overcome perceived barriers," the authors write. "Such actions could only further improve the care we provide and foster humanism in our learners."

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