Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Observations Ethics Man

How to be a cool headed clinician

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 08 June 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3980

Rapid Response:

Re: How to be a cool headed clinician

GMC's view seems to be that "we make sure every patient is treated with empathy and compassion"[1]. Thus, empathy is clearly an essential quality for doctors rather than a desirable one. Without mastering the application of empathy, it would be difficult to develop a satisfactory rapport in most situations; those who work in psychiatry will know this well. Having recently berated doctors for 'closing of the ranks'[2], I am surprised that Sokol is now attempting to dilute the importance of empathy; lack of empathy and compassion seem to be the very issue that is prevalent among doctors who 'close ranks'. Surely, empathy cannot be replaced with imperturbability. Similarly, empathy and sympathy are two different issues; reasonable patients will know the difference well and unlikely to be concerned about an empathetic approach.




Competing interests: No competing interests

19 June 2012
Jay Ilangaratne
East Yorkshire