The Tzu Chi Silent Mentor Program: Application of Buddhist Ethics to Teach Student Physicians Empathy, Compassion, and Self-Sacrifice
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The Buddhist Tzu Chi Silent Mentor Program promotes the donation of one’s body to science as a selfless act by appealing to the Buddhist ethics of compassion and self-sacrifice. Together, faculty, families, and donors help medical students to learn the technical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological aspects of medicine. Students assigned to each “Silent Mentor” visit the family to learn about the donor’s life. They see photos and hear family members’ stories. Afterwards, students write a brief biography of the donor which is posted on the program website, in the medical school, and on the dissection table. In this paper, we: (1) summarize the Silent Mentor Program; (2) describe findings from an assessment of medical students who recently completed a new version of the program in Malaysia; and (3) explore how healthcare settings could benefit from this innovative program.
KeywordsBuddhism Ethics Medical education Empathy Wholistic medicine
The authors would like to thank colleagues Drs. John Blevins and Mimi Kiser of Emory University, and the many faculties, medical students, families, and especially the Silent Mentors who contributed to the success of this program.
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