Current Controversy: Empathy – can it be taught?

There is now a societal and cultural expectation that doctors and nurses should feel, and display, empathy for their patients. Many commentators argue that medical and nursing students should be taught empathy. Empathy, however, is difficult to define: it is not the same as kindness, as it implies a degree of psychological insight into what the patient is thinking or feeling. Empathy is seen by some as a form of emotional intelligence that can be systematically developed through teaching and positive role models.

Cost and value in medical education – what we can learn from the past?

What lessons can be learned from the history of cost and value in medical education? First, the issue of cost and value in medical education has been around for a long time. Rising costs and an economic recession have made us focus on the subject more, but the issue has been just below the surface for over 200 years. A problem like this will not go away by itself – we must tackle it now. Second, the history of cost and value in medical education makes us look critically at who should pay. Should it be students, institutions or governments?

Genotypic testing in clinically defined HHT: would Osler approve or turn in his grave?

Modern diagnostic possibilities pose a number of challenges. When is a precise genetic diagnosis justifiable in today’s climate of cost-cutting? We would like to pose that question to Sir William Osler. Sir William was a keen observer, a master ‘translator’ of science into clinical medicine. Would he have required or supported genetic testing? We treated a patient whose case reminded us of Sir William’s belief that clinical exactness was the ultimate aim, regardless of cost.

Sir Harry C Sinderson Pasha (1891–1974): physician, medical educator and royal confidant

Following the end of the First World War, several British orientalists had a significant influence on politics and development in a number of Arab countries in the Middle East. These include familiar figures such as TE Lawrence in Hejaz, Jordan and Syria, Gertrude Bell in Iraq, Harry St John Philby (later Sheikh Abdullah) in Saudi Arabia and Sir John Glubb (Glubb Pasha) in Jordan. There are however other less well-known individuals, of whom Harry Sinderson Pasha is  one.