Dr. John Ribble
Dr. John Ribble

A new committee charged by Dr. Patricia Butler, vice dean for educational programs, is convening to recommend how the Medical School curriculum can be expanded to further incorporate the concept of compassionate care. Another goal of the committee is to promote a stronger institutional commitment to the practice of compassionate care and recognition that it is as important as the scientific and technical side of medicine.

“It’s not that we don’t do it already,” explained Dr. John Ribble, special adviser for educational programs and chair of the committee. “The idea of physicians providing compassionate care is being taught in the first year course, Introduction to Clinical Medicine, directed by Dr. Joanne Oakes, by the McGovern Institute, and  by example provided  in the clerkships by attending  physicians, residents, and nurses.”

Attention to instruction in compassionate care is timely because it is recognized that medical students tend to lose their humanism and compassion as they go through medical school.  This is attributed in part to the “hidden curriculum” of medical schools.  In a recent report, only 58 percent of patients and 53 percent of physicians said that the health care system generally provides compassionate care.

Committee members include Drs. Philip Orlander, Oakes, Judianne Kellaway, Thomas Cole, Dawnelle Schatte, Heinrich Taegtmeyer, Reem Sabouni, and Vishnukamal Golla, fourth-year student.

The committee is seeking input from faculty, staff, residents, and students on how to strengthen the focus on compassionate care. Please email comments to Butler, Ribble, or any committee member.

-Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School