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March 6, 2002

Physicians' Feelings About Themselves and Their Patients—Reply

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2002;287(9):1113-1114. doi:10.1001/jama.287.9.1109

In Reply: These letters reflect a range of concerns about the impact of the inner emotional lives of physicians on the care of their patients. Dr Kennedy likens the sequelae of the trauma of medical education to PTSD. Dr Auster argues that phenomena similar to those described among physicians caring for persons with life-threatening illness also affect physicians' care for patients with chronic degenerative disorders or disabilities. Dr Schulman-Green believes that medical educational and community norms should change to integrate the recognition of the role that unexamined feelings can have on both physician and patient. Judging by these letters, our article seems to have stimulated dialogue on the responsibility of the profession to acknowledge that physicians are people too, with feelings that may affect care of patients. If the self-evidence of this observation is accepted by medical educators, some of the suggestions offered by these writers may find their way into the curriculum both for physicians in training as well as those already in practice.