We are on the brink of a paradigm shift in medicine in which compassion is being brought to the forefront of the doctor-patient relationship through holistic, patient-centered care. With 21st century innovation in instrument development coupled with a focus on individualized treatment, our generation of physicians is part of a significant cornerstone in medical history. I have always seen myself as not just being part of the medical profession but shaping it—helping it grow. The Schwartz Fellowship allows me to do this in a meaningful way by contributing to this paradigm shift starting at my home institution.
I will be looking at the utility of developing an operational definition of compassion. Empirical studies have shown the impact of compassion-centered care on positive patient responses, outcomes and treatments. The question is how to integrate compassion-centered care, currently an ambiguous goal, into the medical curriculum as an attainable and perhaps quantifiable goal.
I will also be developing active learning platforms in bioethics for first- and second-year medical students and comparing them to the standard lecture-based curriculum. For example, which is the more effective way to teach students about current U.S. food stamp policy: a lecture about the policy and its relationship to health, or an activity that asks students to live for a week on a food stamp budget?
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