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Importance of Empathy in Patient Care


Carl Rogers defines empathy (as cited in Patterson, 1977) as the capability to accurately perceive the internal frame of reference of someone else, as though one were with the other person. In other words that if you can actually feel the thoughts of another, without going through the physical experience. This meaning however, has been challenged.

"What someone else experience at a certain minute is not directly given. However, the presence of the other is directly given therefore is the awareness that the other is experiencing self. This can't be compared with other modesof experience. The knowledge of another is unique. Which means that the other modes of experiencing only are of incomplete help in detailing the way the subjective becomes intersubjective. In addition, it means that there surely is without doubt about who's experiencing largely, and who is sharing or experiencing the experience of another. " (Stein, E. 1989). Both of these meanings however different, are both used today in managing of patient health care in the medical occupation. This newspaper will quickly explore both meanings and will try to show sides of the complex subject. The study done for this paper will deal mostly with physician-patient and nurse/care provider-patient interactions. The goal of this newspaper is to show the importance of the role of empathy in providing quality patient good care.


Those medical professionals and medical teachers who advocate empathy in the physician-patient encounters, claim that physicians who participate empathetically with patients increase not only the patients sense of "satisfaction" but also patient conformity with healing regimens and increased physiological well-being. (Kim, Kaplowitz and Johnston, 2004).

The prolonged objection to empathy in the medical community originates from matter that empathy interferes with technological and medical objectivity. "What professionals need will be the skills to make use of their emotional responses for restorative impact. In the "interpersonal realm, feelings are necessary of understanding reality. An awareness of one's associations and emotional resonances as cues to understanding this meanings' a symptom or medical diagnosis has for a person. " (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2001). Both of there outlooks are essential to good patient care. You may put yourself in the patients "shoes" and somewhat "imagine" what they are going through, while at the same time being straight forward and "real" about the analysis. The question for many medical teachers' remains whether empathy, no subject how valuable or carefully reconfigured, can be taught.

The issue of empathy begins with the preoccupation with self that obscures the other. Jerome Lowenstein (IS IT POSSIBLE TO Train Compassion? P16) perceives case presentations as the chance for clinicians to instruct nurses empathy by pushing them to describe patients more completely as individuals with intersecting sociable, subconscious and medical histories, alternatively than reductively and disparagingly in conditions of disorders, addictions and disease. "Training in continuing care and attention will be of little value without doctors who know something of the life of individuals whom they provide; who is able to empathize with immigrants from Asia and Mexico, with southern or ghetto experience; and who realized of the Holocaust and of communist oppression. " (Spiro, 1992).

Empathy depends upon the experience and thoughts of the individual who's empathizing which dependency have the potential to exclude the patient's fighting and the meaning the patient makes of suffering.


The following report is a true-life experience that I encountered while working for Gambro HEALTHCARE in Jackson, Michigan as a patient care technician. Gambro HEALTHCARE (Now DaVita) can be an outpatient dialysis product. Dialysis is the treatment for patients who have problems with end level renal failure (kidney failing).

While looking at a patients vital signs and asking him how he was feeling, the patient told me how much he hated coming to dialysis and how "draining" the procedure was. He spoken if you ask me about the frequent observation of his substance intake, taking all the medications that were necessary for his condition and the cramping he experienced while on the dialysis machine. I possibly could only empathize with this son, who was my age, adding myself emotionally in his shoes. Because of the experience I needed with dialysis patients, I learned how to listen to each patient history. Many of these patients had no one else to listen to them. I noticed these patients for four hours, three days a week. I spent lots of time with them through the years that they received their treatments.

While I had been talking with the individual, the nephrologist (kidney doctor) arrived by on his rounds of the patients. The patient proceeded to see the physician, his eyes packed with tears, that he was thinking about terminating his dialysis treatments. The doctor proceeded to share with the patient, rather loudly, they if he terminated treatment he'd be dead in a few days. Without even making the effort to sit back with the patient, the doctor still left and went on to some other patient. Needless to say, I was outraged. After a few moments, I asked our unit director why the physician was so tactless and arrogant.

So many patients everyday that he is merely giving proper diagnosis and alternatives if treatment is not used. At that particular time, I determined that I have to take time to pay attention to those patients, every one of them because I could be the difference between a decision for life or fatality.


Even those4 healthcare experts who consciously privilege their patient's experiences find themselves caught in a knot of power relations. The physician is actually in ability in the medical context, and such vitality subsumes even deliberate makes an attempt to displace authority by acknowledging the patients subjectivity (THE PHYSICIAN, 1991). To become ethical, medical empathy must entail action, you start with recognizing the broader social framework of the patient's health insurance and well-being. With appropriate cautions, theories of clinical empathy should extend beyond the individual relation to socially decided inequities in health care.


Empathy is a required element for both doctor and nurse in the use of good patient treatment. Good communication between a doctor and patient whether good news or bad, should be given within an empathetic manner. The ability to not only give good medical reasoning or examination to an individual. However, to give it in a fashion that just will not supply the facts, but also a sense of "I value what you're going right through and I am going to do all I can to help. " For nurses, our hands-on method of the patient in need, gives us an opportunity to some what feel what they are going through and to be empathetic about their situation.

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