Compassion and Health Care

The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care published a report in the September issue of the journal Health Affairs, on a deep compassion-gap in the system, and offer some suggestions on how to fix it:

Our survey of 800 recently hospitalized patients and 510 physicians found broad agreement that compassionate care is “very important” to successful medical treatment. However, only 53 percent of patients and 58 percent of physicians said that the health care system generally provides compassionate care. Given strong evidence that such care improves health outcomes and patients’ care experiences, we recommend that national quality standards include measures of compassionate care; We  recommend the development of systematic approaches to help health care professionals improve the skills required for compassionate care.


I spent the past couple years wondering where the nursing class on compassion and care was. I love the “care” part of my job. In fact I don’t plan on changing jobs after I get my degree. I love the personal daily care I get to give now rather than the paperwork and pill pushing that most of the nurses on my floor seem to spend much of their time focused on. Health care has become a task oriented job when it should be about caring for each person, each family…I have seen many who have either forgotten about caring or haven’t been shown how to. I was so grateful and happy to get my job at the hospital. I was surprised when I had orientation that so little focus was put on providing compassion and care. It was about a lot of “corporate” and “health” things such as budgets, or infection control or about a dozen other things that are important and were interesting but I was shocked in a field where “CARE” is right in the title there was no training or focus on how important it is to CARE for patients.

We have an incredible learning system where I work. It provides courses and workshops you can take on any number of subjects. Some are on computer programs or how to work hospital equipment, others are on procedures or codes. There are workshops on customer satisfaction and diversity. I am surprised how little focus the health care industry as a whole puts on the CARING side of health care. If we focused more on caring we wouldn’t have to focus so much on health. We need to shake some sense into health care providers and remind them that CARING is a vital part of the job.

I think that when a staff member is hired at a hospital they should have to go through a two-day training workshop where they are a patient for the day. Or where they consider their family member as the patient and they are the daughter or mother…to remind health care staff that this may just be another day at work for them but it is a day of crisis for most people they care for or see. I wish we took more time to realize the trust we have been given to care for each patient like our own family. (Or better depending on how much they like their family :P) We need to remind health care professionals that the more we care the healthier and happier and more comfortable our patients and their families are. Every person should know that there is someone that cares. That they are never alone, never without a hand to hold or a cup of warm tea to soothe their nerves. If we focused more on the care then the “pharmacology” of health care we would have a less stressed, less sick, less hospitalized society.

This entry was posted in Compassion in Health Care and Poverty Solutions, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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