Shakespeare can help doctors improve bedside manner
Shakespeare should be included in training for medical students so they can improve their empathy towards patients, according to research by the Royal Society of Medicine.
Reading the Bard’s plays could help doctors build a good rapport with their patients by improving their ability to understand and share feelings, scientists believe.
The global pandemic has made it more difficult for doctors to establish relationships with patients as they are inhibited by PPE, and social distancing measures mean most consultations are now done via video link.
Dr David Jeffrey, the study’s author, said: “Shakespeare speaks through times of crisis, underlining the centrality of empathetic human relationships.
“Medical humanities are often on the fringes of medical education but should be central to medicine culture change,” Dr Jeffrey argued.
“A special study module would be one way of introducing Shakespeare studies to the [medical] undergraduate curriculum.”
Dr Jeffrey used references from Shakespeare’s plays The Tempest, As You Like It and King Lear to illustrate how the language promotes empathy – the ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings.
In particular, the way Shakespeare depicts the world from other people’s point of view. Dr Jeffrey said: “It is remarkable that Shakespeare’s work remains relevant today.
“It seems that he had an ability to anticipate our thoughts, particularly in times of crisis.”
While doctors deal with death and illness on a daily basis, many people struggle to come to terms with it.