Guest House at Tenwek Hospital, 2012
We start our empathy learning in our homes from those we love and who love us. There is evidence that there are genetic components, but we get to practice these responses with assistance in our homes.
Medical education is primarily a “problem-based” approach and located within the academy. Unfortunately, this approach is associated with decreasing empathy in the learners. So how can we find an educational response that promotes empathy in the learner?
In a recent edition of Christian Century “Roommates and Friends” describes an innovation in seminary education. A space, “Friendship House” was established to provide housing with ministry to and with the disabled. It is a beautiful and innovative example of healing learning!
I have only experienced a few places that are similar residential learning environments. One example is a mission station like Tenwek where students can live in community with those they serve. This guest house is a intergenerational and interdisciplinary space. These residential spaces are powerful environments to learn and share the wonderful and difficult stories of healing.
Have you experienced innovative, creative, empathetic healing learning environments? I would love to hear where you have learned those empathetic skills.
Neumann M et al Empathy decline and its reasons: a systematic review of studies with medical students and residents. Academic Medicine. 86(8):996-1009, 2011 Aug
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