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American Association for Physician Leadership
American Association for Physician Leadership

Developing Your Staff’s Empathy

by Laura Hills, DA

February 8, 2019


Summary:

This article argues that empathy is a practice management essential, and it urges medical practice managers to encourage, foster, and teach empathy to their employees.



Abstract:

Empathy has the reputation of being a soft, fuzzy, feel-good emotion. But it is much more than that. This article argues that empathy also is a practice management essential, and it urges medical practice managers to encourage, foster, and teach empathy to their employees. This article describes more precisely what empathy is, and how it is similar to and different from sympathy. It explains why empathy is much more than the implementation of the Golden Rule. This article then describes 10 characteristics shared by highly empathetic people. It explains some of the possible reasons that a medical practice employee may not be empathetic, and how well-intentioned employee assessment metrics can inadvertently thwart empathy. This article also suggests more than 10 shareable personal and professional benefits to employees when they are empathetic. Finally, it describes three hands-on empathy-building exercises managers can use with their employees with no cost and little prep work, and that can be facilitated in conjunction with regular staff meetings.


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Laura Hills, DA

Practice leadership coach, consultant, author, seminar speaker, and President of Blue Pencil Institute, an organization that provides educational programs, learning products, and professionalism coaching to help professionals accelerate their careers, become more effective and productive, and find greater fulfillment and reward in their work;100 Harborview Drive, #801, Baltimore, MD 21230; phone: 667-205-1152; e-mail: lhills@bluepencilinstitute.com; website: www.bluepencilinstitute.com ; Twitter: @DrLauraHills.







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The American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL) changed its name from the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) in 2014. We may have changed our name, but we are the same organization that has been serving physician leaders since 1975.

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