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The P value of empathy

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 06 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:101
  1. Craig Watson (, GP principal
  1. Fyvie Oldmeldrum Medical Group, Aberdeenshire

Just after the beginning of the millennium I contemplate another new contract, a continuing recruitment crisis, and an uncertain future. Some commentators would have me believe that the role of the community physician is not as timeless as I had thought. I am challenged to redefine my role—as a specialist generalist and an expert in multiple pathology—or face extinction at the hands of an army of nurse practitioners who are more adept (and less expensive) at following evidence based protocols. However, my patients have other ideas. Their demand for the attention of their community physician threatens to overwhelm my duty doctor system, my appointment system, my coping strategies, and my morale.

I may defend my professional status by claiming ownership of an advanced body of knowledge or science. But then I reflect that much of the knowledge acquired by doctors is deemed redundant a few years after they qualify and that much of the past and current medical literature is considered to be …

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