A strong feeling of sympathy for people who are suffering and a desire to help them.

Empathy has been shown to positively influence physician – patient relationships as well as interactions between physicians. It has been linked to “lower burnout, higher well-being…”[1][2][3][4] According to the CMA, empathetic communication is key to creating a better medical culture.[5] Treating oneself with compassion improves wellbeing and mental health.[6]

[1] Thomas MR, Dyrbye LN, Huntington JL, Lawson KL, Novotny PJ, Sloan JA, Shanafelt TD: How do distress and well-being relate to medical student empathy? A multicenter study. J Gen Intern Med. 2007, 22: 177-183. 10.1007/s11606-006-0039-6.

[2] DiLalla LF, Hull SK, Dorsey JK: Effect of gender, age, and relevant course work on attitudes toward empathy, patient spirituality, and physician wellness. Teach Learn Med. 2004, 16: 165-170. 10.1207/s15328015tlm1602_8.

[3] Shanafelt TD, West C, Zhao X, Novotny P, Kolars J, Habermann T, Sloan J: Relationship between increased personal well-being and enhanced empathy among internal medicine residents. J Gen Intern Med. 2005, 20: 559-564. 10.1007/s11606-005-0102-8

[4] Kelm, Z., Womer, J., Walter, J.K. et al. Interventions to cultivate physician empathy: a systematic review. BMC Med Educ 14, 219 (2014).

[5] Canadian Medical Association, Empathy in medicine, 2020. Accessible here:

[6] What is compassion and how can we measure it? A review of definitions and measures