Empathy and Sympathy Qualities in Health Professionals Discussions

Sympathy and empathy are both important qualities in the context of medicine. Empathy can be defined as the state of understanding and sharing someone’s feelings as if you were the one experiencing it. It is like putting oneself in someone else’s shoes to understand what they are going through. To be empathetic is to deeply understand someone else’s sorrow or fears. Sympathy, on the other hand, is simply understanding and recognizing someone’s sorrows. In a medicinal context, sympathy leads to pity which is not as healthy as the relationship between the doctor and the patient could be one-sided. This makes empathy more preferred and essential in the field of medicine.

Empathy enables the doctor or the physician to understand the student as a whole. This means that they can understand their concerns and problems providing them with the utmost and holistic care. As a result, the doctor can create a rapport with their patients as the patients feel emotionally connected and well understood (“What’s the difference between sympathy and empathy?” 2020). The patient will feel comfortable sharing their issues and there is a greater chance that they will follow the treatment plans given to them leading to their quick recovery.

In most cases, sympathy can be termed as unhelpful as it is based on unwanted pity and self-preservation. It creates an impression that you are lucky and better placed than the patient. For instance, a statement like, “I am sorry you are struggling with that” could make the patient feel isolated. In the statement, no support has been given. Empathy, on the other hand, provides a sense of companionship and trust. For example, if a doctor says to a patient “you are not alone, we have been people who were facing the same issue and they are better now”. This gives the patient assurance that they are not the only ones facing that struggle and there is hope for recovery. Empathy is therefore a more essential quality to be used in medicine context


What’s the difference between sympathy and empathy?. (2020). Retrieved 19 September 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/sympathy-empathy-difference