Developing a Pilot Curriculum to Foster Humanism in Graduate Medical Education

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To design a pilot curriculum to foster humanism in Graduate Medical Education (GME).


Humanistic values have been recently emphasized in medical education with the advent of professionalism competencies. Few curriculum interventions affect humanistic professional development at the GME level.


OB/GYN and Internal Medicine residents' narratives regarding challenges to humanistic behavior were analyzed as a needs assessment with three themes identified: compassion fatigue, communication challenges, and work-life balance. Three curriculum sessions focusing on these themes were chosen from an existing faculty development course. Ten subjects participated in the curriculum, and these ten participants and 10 control residents completed baseline and 60-day follow-up questionnaires that assessed burnout, compassion satisfaction, the ability to practice psychological medicine (Psychological Medicine Inventory [PMI]), and the number of ethical missteps made within the last 30 days4. The mean differences in scores between the control and intervention subjects were compared using a two-tailed χ2 test. The success of the intervention was also measured with 5-point Likert satisfaction surveys.


The curriculum met course objectives and was successfully incorporated into the residents' practice (mean score 4.8) There was a trend toward improved burnout and compassion satisfaction for the intervention group versus the control group (P=.13). There was no difference in PMI or reported ethical missteps.


A pilot humanism curriculum for residents was well received. Participants showed a trend towards improved burnout and compassion satisfaction compared with non-participants. Development and evaluation of an expanded curriculum would further explore the feasibility and effectiveness of this type of intervention.

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