How Doctors Care

The Science of Compassionate and Balanced Caring in Medicine (First Edition)
Dominic O. Vachon, M.Div., Ph.D.
©2020, 618 pages

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How Doctors Care

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    Compassion draws physicians into medicine, but then they believe they must jettison that compassion to survive. Paradoxically, science has now shown that losing that compassion not only harms the patient, it also harms the doctor. How Doctors Care: The Science of Compassionate and Balanced Caring in Medicine explains what physicians and other clinicians can do to provide balanced and compassionate caring for patients without becoming emotionally detached or overwhelmed.

    The text provides a research-informed and non-sentimental description of physician/clinician compassion. Bringing together cutting-edge scientific research for practicing physicians and those in training, How Doctors Care provides the first full articulation of what constitutes optimal compassionate mental performance in the practice of medicine. It argues how maintaining this internal state is the key to physician resilience and fulfillment in a dysfunctional healthcare system. Rather than blaming clinicians for burnout, How Doctors Care argues that healthcare organizations must provide organizational protection and support to clinicians so that they are able to maintain the compassionate internal state they desire so much and that benefits patients the most.

    Dominic O. Vachon, M.Div., Ph.D., is the John G. Sheedy M.D. Director of the Ruth M. Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care in Medicine in the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame. He is also a professor of practice in the Preprofessional Studies Department, where he teaches courses in compassionate care in medicine, medical counseling skills, and spiritualties of caring in the helping professions. Dr. Vachon does research on the internal mental and emotional process of the clinician compassion mindset in patient care, clinician communication skills, and innovations in medical training applying the science of compassion.

    Dr. Vachon has devoted the last 25 years of his professional career to supporting and training physicians, residents, medical students, premedical students, and other clinicians in patient communication skills as well as dealing with burnout and the recovery of compassionate care in the inner lives of clinicians. As a medical psychologist who has spent most of his life training new physicians as well as conducting his own clinical practice, Vachon has been uniquely positioned to hear how physicians suffer in clinical practice and to bring to bear the insights of the science of compassionate caring to help them restore their compassionate ideals and thereby, to improve patient care.
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