Medicine is an altruistic profession. Physicians must be committed to serving others and devoted to the care of their patients. They must bring intention and action, as well as empathy and compassion, to the doctor-patient relationship. They must demonstrate honesty and integrity in all of their professional interactions.
Empathy requires curiosity and a willingness to understand and perceive the experience of another person. In medicine, physicians must listen openly to their patient's story, understanding their patient's experience of illness in the context of the patient's beliefs, values, personal circumstances and unique human qualities and respond compassionately based on the patient's concerns.
Physicians also have the responsibility to be aware of their own reactions and emotions, with attention to how this influences their attitudes toward and behavior with their patients. Thus, Yale seeks to admit students who demonstrate humanitarian values, maturity and the capacity for self-reflection. Yale medical school, through its curriculum and system of education, will provide opportunities for students to maintain, preserve and enhance the empathy and compassion that brought them to medicine so that it is clearly evident in their development and work as physicians.
The Medical School will ensure that all graduating students demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the faculty, the following:
- Empathic care of the patient through their interest in how patients experience and cope with illness.
- Respect for the patient's dignity, including the right to privacy and confidentiality.
- Knowledge of the principles that guide ethical decision-making and awareness of the major ethical dilemmas in medicine, including those arising at the beginning and end of life, those posed by the expansion of science and technology, and those resulting from financial constraints and incentives.
- Honesty, accuracy and integrity in all interactions with patients, families, colleagues and others with whom they work as physicians, including scientific integrity.
- The ability to recognize and accept the limitations in one's knowledge and skills, along with an ongoing, lifelong commitment to improve one's knowledge and abilities as a physician.
- A commitment to understand and advocate for the patients' interests and those of the community over one's own personal interests.
- An awareness of one's vulnerability to stress, and the influence stress has on the ability to care for patients.
- An awareness of the possibility of physician bias, arising both from personal background, conflicts of interest, and the culture of medicine, and the ways that bias can affect the delivery of care and the doctor-patient relationship.