Document Type: Commentary
Harvard Medical School & The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, Boston, MA, USA
Compassion is a complex process that is innate, determined in part by individual traits, and modulated by a myriad of conscious and unconscious factors, immediate context, social structures and expectations, and organizational “culture.” Compassion is an ethical foundation of healthcare and a widely shared value; it is not an optional luxury in the healing process. While the interrelations between individual motivation and social structure are complex, we can choose to act individually and collectively to remove barriers to the innate compassion that most healthcare professionals bring to their work. Doing so will reduce professional burnout, improve the well-being of the healthcare workforce, and facilitate our efforts to achieve the triple aim of improving patients’ experiences of care and health while lowering costs.