Deconstructing the Patient Experience: An Experiential Learning Approach for Cultivating Empathy among Health Professions Students
Health professions students are often instructed with an intense focus on science-based coursework. This provides little to no opportunity to directly appreciate the functional burdens placed on patients by even the simplest of care plans. To better link the basic and clinical science curricula with humanities education, we propose a scenario-based experiential learning model that closely approximates the patient experience of having one’s dominant arm immobilized as part of a splinting skills workshop. This exercise will provide the impetus for participants to reflect on barriers to care plan optimization that incorporates the individual patient’s unique needs and the socioeconomic, cultural, systems-based, and human factors contributing to patient non-compliance. Awareness about the unexpected inconveniences caused by a seemingly innocuous intervention will allow trainees at key transition periods to explore the myriad unspoken costs not necessarily included in standard financial assessments and to undertake the challenge of preventing waste and overuse.
Penn State University College of Medicine
Eric Jung is a Los Angeles native who studied chemical engineering at Stanford University prior to becoming a medical student at Penn State University College of Medicine. His current academic passions include healthcare innovation, quality improvement, patient safety and advocacy, and inter-professional collaboration as they pertain to the care of underserved populations. He is fortunate to have explored these interests through the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Association for Prevention Teaching and Research, National Association of Community Health Centers, and Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Through the Lown Institute, he is excited to explore the efficacy of experiential learning for health professions trainees.
Elizabeth Wei is a fourth-year medical student at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She is a graduate of Stanford University, where she majored in Human Biology and conducted research in nutrition and preventive medicine. She is currently pursuing renal cell carcinoma research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In the future, she hopes to enter pediatrics or family medicine practice and complete her MPH degree. Outside of school, Elizabeth enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending quality time with her friends, family, and pets.
Aaron Cantor is a third-year medical student at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and is originally from Coatesville, PA. After studying microbiology and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh, he researched a cancer drug in Australia and is now pursuing work in nutrition and patient safety. His goal is to promote experiential learning in medical schools and ultimately practice preventive medicine in the U.S. Navy. Some of his hobbies include woodworking and drumming along with many outdoor activities.