For decades medical schools and teaching hospitals focused on turning out superb technicians. Students and residents were expected to be well versed in the latest medical advances and knowledge about disease, but the advice they usually received on how to communicate with patients was to maintain emotional distance. As patients found out, good technicians didn’t necessarily make compassionate clinicians.
Since then medicine has learned that compassion and communication skills should—and need to—matter. Studies have shown that compassionate care can lead to better patient outcomes and adherence to treatment regimens. And how doctors communicate to the rest of the care team also can affect patient outcomes, as well as work relationships and the culture of a health care system.