Rebuilding a Curriculum of Caring for Healthcare
Embedding a foundational "tool kit" of compassion in present and future physicians is essential for improved patient-physician engagement and communication, and for physician satisfaction. This essay was initially written as a project paper
for the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative in which I was a 2013 Fellow.
"May I see in all who suffer only the fellow human being"
It is crucial for the health care profession – now a health care system, comprised of collaborative teams of physicians, nurses, PAs, social workers, ethicists, and even economists – to remain focused, engaged, vibrant, and committed to caring. We cannot have it any other way. We cannot be a healthy society, with healthy citizens contributing to the success and happiness of that society, without an engaged health care team. We need to (re)-train physicians for a lifetime of caring, so that they continually demonstrate empathy in their work, and so that they themselves remain energized and happy in their careers, as this will improve patient outcomes over time.
As Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter has written, change is often a result of “Big Vision and Small Steps.” The Big Vision is creating and curating The Course in Compassion: A Curriculum of Caring (The Course). The small, essential and crucial steps are to pilot a series of medical humanities courses in all six modules, and, utilizing longitudinal data analysis, create metrics to measure patient outcomes and satisfaction over time, and physician satisfaction through their careers.