Empathy and compassion in work and life

Empathy and compassion in work and life.

School:   Edinburgh Medical School 

Team Members: Liz Grant, Harriet Harris, Jessie Paterson, Joanna Alexjuk, Pam Smith, Kitty Wheater, Lissette Aviles, Marti Balaam


Recent research on empathy and compassion evidence improvements around: inclusion, dignity and respect, sense of belonging, awareness of others and self; illness, sick-leave, and retention; work output; relations with colleagues and clients; and health and safety. Compassion research also notes confusion over terminology; structural and educational barriers to compassion; and the need for more developed processes of evaluation (Singer & Klimecki, 2014). 

A multi-disciplinary team will develop and pilot an online self-directed course for individuals (staff and students). It will explore empathy and compassion in work and life, with two principal objectives: 1) to develop theoretical and case-study based understanding of empathy and compassion; 2) to embed this understanding, through reflective practice, as it applies to the participant’s own context. The course will comprise five, approximately two-hour online learning and reflective practice (RP) sessions run biweekly across ten weeks. Participants will employ self-directed reading, and complete exercises including the writing of reflective blogs. Evaluation via questionnaires and focus groups will be completed, with the feedback obtained used to further enhance the course before making it available to Colleges and Schools to use as they wish either standalone or embedded within existing courses.