The Best Medicine--Compassion in Care from Holland

At TEDx Maastrict in 2011, medical student Salmaan Sana told a redemptive story of how he lost what was most important to him — his desire to become a physician — and how he ultimately recovered his passion.


As Sana progressed through his medical studies, he found himself missing what had made him want to study medicine in the first place: a connection with the patient. He attempted to fill that missing space through outside endeavors, to the detriment of his studies. One day, the faculty of the medical school confronted him and asked, “Do you still want to be a doctor?”

Sana wanted to know why he and many others like him had lost their passion — or rather, as he came to believe, their compassion. Having become familiar with the efforts of Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion to return the golden rule to daily life, Sana brought together doctors, insurance professionals and patients to create a Charter for Care, a document that placed compassion at the core of modern healthcare.

COM-PASSION FOR CARE

The COM-Passion for Care Charter, says Sana, has several aims:

*To work as a signaling lighthouse, bringing together in a community those stranded ships who are interested in compassion in care.

*To foster and collect research that reminds people that compassion is not just “warm and huggy-huggy,” to highlight research demonstrating that compassion in care increases patient safety and recovery rates, and to encourage further research.

*To make compassion an integral part of healthcare education.

The COM-Passion for Care charter and movement have been endorsed wholeheartedly by Karen Armstrong. The following is from the group’s charter:

We believe compassion in healthcare has the power to restore balance between efficiency and humanity, between control and trust. Being compassionate towards patients and their families is vital for a healing experience. This also means they need to be actively involved in a shared effort of care and cure. Being compassionate towards co-workers enhances teamwork and stimulates the passion to help and cure.

WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW? 

Sana and his colleagues, all volunteers, haven’t rested. In 2012, COM-Passion for Care will be participating in the TEDxMaastrict conference, which is organized around the topic of “The Future of Health.” COM-Passion for Care will also be a vital presence at the upcoming Healthcare Leadership Summerschool, and the group is organizing a congress for November 2012 focusing on avoiding burnout and cultivating enthusiasm in the medical profession and putting compassion into actual practice.

Sana and his colleagues are working with VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam to incorporate compassion learning throughout the bachelor’s, master’s and residency phases. 

Of course the learning and teaching never stop. In additional to lectures and seminars that COM-Passion for Care gives throughout the year – they’ve come up with a new idea a Compassion for Care tour – a road trip in search of best practices.