Debate Surrounds Ability to "Teach" Bedside Manner

A $42 million donation by a Chicago couple to develop an institute dedicated to improving physicians' bedside manner has sparked a debate within the medical community about whether bedside manner can be taught or if it is an innate quality.

The donation by Chicago residents Carolyn and Matthew Bucksbaum will establish the The Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence at the University of Chicago. The institute will be dedicated to improving patient-physician relationships and physicians' bedside manner and aims to elevate the role compassion and empathy in medical care.

However, some within the medical community have questioned the ability to teach compassion and empathy. In a blog post by Paul Levy, former CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, shares a number of comments pulled from a discussion on the issue at Medscape Connect. In the comments, physicians from a variety of specialties shared their thoughts. Some physicians comments' suggested they believe bedside manner can be improved through education, while others comments' suggested it's more a function of personality.

Related Articles on Bedside Manner:

U of Chicago Medical Center Devotes Institute to Patient-Physician Relationships With $42M Donation
Healthcare Experts: Patient Literacy, Communication Key to Prevention
Mayo Clinic: Burnout Persists Among Medical Residents, Despite Shortened Work Hours

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