Med schools should assess students on empathy, researchers say

Researchers calculated a baseline measure of empathy among medical students, which could be used to assess future applicants' capacity for the soft skill, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.  

For the study, researchers surveyed 16,149 osteopathic medical students from 41 schools nationwide during the 2017-18 academic year. Researchers calculated students' scores on the Jefferson Scale of Empathy and created national norms for each phase of medical school.

Researchers said the national empathy norms could be used as an additional way to assess medical school applications, alongside more traditional factors like college transcripts and MCAT scores, according to the Chicago Tribune.

However, some experts say this is unnecessary, since empathy is taught to medical students as part of the curriculum. In addition, medical schools already perform a "holistic review of applicants … which looks beyond grades and test scores," John Prescott, MD, chief academic officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, told the publication.

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