Dealing with Death & Dying in Medical Education and Practice
© 2001 Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS
AMSA Convention March 30, 2001
Fostering Physician Compassion

Remove the barriers to being compassionate

  • Ensure adequate sleep, rest and vacation
  • Retreat
  • Preparation/Reflection
  • Physician support systems
  • Realistic assessment of competence
  • Beware of counter-transference
  • Focus on long-term efficiency
  • Use acts of compassion that are free or inexpensive - eye contact, sitting down, mannerism
Techniques to foster compassion
  • Develop empathy
  • Focus on own life experiences
  • Imagination
  • Trust intuition
  • Learn from others through stories, art, poetry
  • Listen patiently
  • Acknowledge similar experiences and emotions
  • Share own emotions and distress with patients (carefully)
  • Remember the Hippocratic Oath "Not to treat those overmastered by their disease."

  • Source:
    Rabow, MW. Breaking Bad News: Managing the Aftermath. Presented at UCSF’s "End of Life Care for the Hospitalized Patient, October 2000.

    Compilation of resources for this presentation and Website © 2001 Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS.
    Journey of Hearts,