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Finding healing for the healers
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Boston Globe

Boston Globe, July 17, 2012
Posted: January 1st, 2013

Seventeen years ago today, in the Boston Globe Magazine, a dying man issued a plea for greater compassion in medicine. He worried that medical professionals faced increasing work demands that prioritized efficiency over empathy. Kenneth Schwartz died of lung cancer two months later, but not before founding an organization that would bring increased attention to the importance of human interactions in medicine. Research suggests that without intervention, physicians may risk becoming less empathetic over time. A recent survey of 18 studies found that medical students and residents tended to report declining feelings of empathy over the course of their training. Another study found that self-perceived empathy dropped sharply after the third year of medical school, when students start working with patients in the hospital. The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcares flagship program, which started at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1997, encourages doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to share the complex and often distressing feelings that arise from patient care. In recent years, the Schwartz Center Rounds have expanded rapidly, spreading to more than 260 institutions in the country and 14 hospitals in the United Kingdom. The programs growth reflects an increasing recognition that traditional ideals of the stoic, superhuman medical professional may not be healthy for either the patient or the caregiver. Schwartz Center Rounds highlight feelings guilt, fear, anger, or sadness that might lead caregivers to withdraw emotionally from their work.

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