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Empathy needs to be ingrained in the culture of doctors’ training

It was reassuring to read “At MGH, schooling doctors in the power of empathy” (Page A1, Aug. 16). That this program is put forth by a nationally lauded hospital makes it particularly significant. Empathy remains the core of what it means to be a physician. Unfortunately, in the past several decades, empathy has not received the attention it deserves in our profession.

Advances in medical science and technology have left little time in medical school and residency training for learning and practicing the skills of communication and for appreciating what it means to be a patient. I commend Dr. Helen Riess for creating this program and the MGH for endorsing it.

However, it is important to recognize that if these skills are to be retained, they will need to be supported at all stages of becoming a physician. This calls for revamping our culture, and giving as much value to empathy as we do to technology.

Dr. Ralph B. Freidin, Boston

The writer is retired after 40 years of practicing internal medicine. He currently teaches medical ethics at Mount Auburn Hospital.