Reflection, Sense of Belonging, and Empathy in Medical Education-Introducing a "Novel" Model of Empathetic Development by Literature

Jonas Christian Lunen*

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review


Empathy, self-reflection, and inclusion of the medical humanities in medical education are increasingly gaining attention. This seems prudent, as studies indicate that high physician empathy is associated with better patient outcomes and could protect against physician burnout. In addition, utilizing self-reflection has been reported to surge diagnostic accuracy and increase the ability of clinical health care providers. Therefore, in medical education, there is a need to address these, however intricate, most important skills. Not oblivious to this, for decades many medical schools have reaped experience from the humanities, sprouting the field of the medical humanities. However, significant barriers encountered when teaching the medical humanities to medical students are of concern. Consequently, a theory-based, inclusive, representative, and intuitive approach to the teachings is coveted. The aim of this article is to describe and present such an approach. To this end, I introduce a novel Model of Empathetic Development by Literature, schematizing the path from reading a text to displaying an act of empathy. Ever mindful of the relevance and feasibility to medical students, this article reflects on thoughts and evidence behind the hypothesis; that sense of belonging, self-reflection, and empathy could be gained by reading and discussing literary fiction. Referring to both original research articles, books of popular science, and philosophical considerations, a clear line of reasoning for the inclusion of literary fiction in medical education is made. Thereafter, it is outlined, how-in a medical humanities course at Copenhagen University-specific literary excerpts are utilized to bring forth reflection on different aspects, circumstances, and conditions of being a physician, thereby kindling the medical students' sense of belonging to their profession. As such, this perspective piece demonstrates a concrete approach to how a literary educative technique could manifest.

TidsskriftJournal of medical education and curricular development
StatusUdgivet - 2023

Bibliografisk note

© The Author(s) 2023.


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