AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. January 2000, Volume 2, Number 1.

Journal Discussion

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The Empathic Physician: Nature and Nurture

Readers are referred to a chapter of a book and then asked to consider the importance of empathy in the patient-physician relationship.

Articles and books on bioethics continue to expand in both number and the range of topics discussed. Between 1989 and 1998, more than 4000 articles alone were published in MEDLINE-cited journals. Some of the major topics examined are the patient-physician relationship, end-of-life care, reproductive medicine, genetics, and the allocation of scarce medical resources. From these publications, we will be selecting a handful of articles and chapters, some of which reflect issues of perennial concern to physicians, others reflect more recent quandries resulting from advances in biomedical technology.

A new article or book chapter will be featured every month, accompanied by questions intended to guide readers along the path of ethical reasoning and to promote discussion.

January Book Chapter

Glick S. The empathic physician: nature and nurture. In: Spiro H, McCrea Curnen MG, Peschel E, St James D, eds. Empathy and the Practice of Medicine. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press; 1993:85-102.

Questions for Glick Book Chapter

  • How important is empathy in the patient-physician relationship, as compared with medical expertise?
  • How is it related to trust?
  • How can empathy be taught to physicians in a way that complements the scientific aspects of medicine?
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