Humanism and Medical Treatment: Clinicians and Patients Finding Common Ground

  • Peter WeissmannEmail author
  • Alice Fornari
  • William T. BranchJr.


When formulating plans for medical treatment, the relationship between the clinician and patient is one of the most important variables that determines whether the plan will be adhered to and succeed. Elements of that relationship transcend the usual transactional nature of most professional encounters in daily life. One such element can be described by the professional attitude of the clinician as humanistic, a quality that can be distinguished from professionalism, that has received increasing attention from educational and professional leaders. Patients expect such an attitude from their providers. While it is sometimes assumed that “bedside manner” describes an innate quality, hard to describe, and that cannot be acquired, extensive literature demonstrates quite the opposite. The educational opportunities that foster a culture of medical humanism are often at odds with the healthcare environment that many learners and practitioners confront in daily practice, but intentional professional development can promote humanistic qualities in medical professionals to change the prevailing culture for the better. To do so, learners need to engage in self-reflection among a community of co-learners that is sustained over sufficient time, to create well-formed and well-intended role models that serve as a nidus for cultural change in the larger healthcare environment.


Humanism Nonadherence Enhancing treatment adherence Clinician-patient relationship Shared decision-making 


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Copyright information

©  Springer Nature Switzerland AG (outside the USA) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Weissmann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alice Fornari
    • 2
    • 3
  • William T. BranchJr.
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Minnesota Medical SchoolMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/NorthwellHempsteadUSA
  3. 3.Northwell Health OrganizationNew Hyde ParkUSA
  4. 4.Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Department of MedicineEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA

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