What Doctors Feel


By Tracy Granzyk MS

First Posted at Educate the Young on 06/10/13

Tracy Granzyk MS, Managing Editor, Educate the Young
Tracy Granzyk MS, Managing Editor, Educate the Young

I came across a post last week on Slate, The Darkest Year of Medical School, revisiting the idea that medical students lose not only empathy during their medical education, but according to author and NYU physician, Danielle Ofri, “altruism…generosity of spirit, love of learning, high ethical standards—are eroded by the end of medical training.” On June 4th, Ofri also published What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicinehaving performed numerous interviews to draw her conclusions. I read some of the comments on her blog post above–many sharing “medical school was great”. Yet research–past and present– shows many students are not having that experience.

Ofri’s post and newest publication caught my eye as we embark upon the 9th year of the Telluride Patient Safety Educational Roundtable and Resident/Student Summer Camps. This will be my third year in Telluride. The first year I attended, I had the privilege to share a breakout discussion with Lucian Leape and a group of students in the shadows of the San Juan mountains. Throughout that week, Lucian emphasized the need to get a handle on the bullying that occurs in medicine, and instead, instill a greater respect for all in the medical workplace. He shared that unless we are able to do this — treat one another with respect — patients would pay the price, as well as healthcare providers and students.

Having not yet read Ofri’s book, I wonder if medical students who report enjoying medical school overall, were safely ensconced within a workplace with the culture of respect that Dr. Leape refers to as being so very important to patient well-being. It is safe to assume just how empowering a culture of respect would be for students, making them feel competent, part of a team and confident in their newly acquired skills. It’s also safe to assume how students who were bullied might feel (seeBullying in Medicine: Just Say No).

For more information on a culture of respect, and how to create one, see Lucian’s papers:

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Tracy Granzyk MS is Managing Editor for Educate the Young, and a freelance writer and social media consultant who specializes in healthcare, wellness and sport. She spent 15 years in sales, marketing and global strategy in the biotech industry, and joined Dr. Mayer in 2008 as a writer on the award-winning Transparent Health film series where a passion for patient safety took hold. With a graduate degree in sport psychology and an undergraduate degree in non-fiction writing, Tracy is well-positioned to take complex science and healthcare information and share it in a narrative form that resonates with audiences coming from all sides of healthcare. Her insatiable quest for acquiring and sharing knowledge in innovative ways via social and digital media has led to a greater understanding of where technology can take healthcare. As such, her research has most recently been focused in education technology, serious games/simulation, and storytelling.