In a previously published Musings blog entry, A plea for poetry in medical practice, I wrote:
Poetry (as well as good literature) is capable of stimulating the development of empathy in the reader—in this case, the clinician—and serves to enable him or her to approach the patient with an element of understanding and compassion. Such an approach undergirds the delivery of quality medical care.
In that piece I advocated for the inclusion of poetry in the medical curriculum to cultivate empathy on the part of clinicians toward their patients:
“It isn’t that clinicians are totally thoughtless people,” I opined. “In many instances they just never learned to appreciate what it might be like to stand in the patient’s shoes.”