About this event

  • Date and time Mon 4 Nov 2019 from 9:00am to 5:30pm
  • Location Royal Society of Medicine
  • Organised by Medicine and Society, The Oxford Empathy Programme

This meeting will explore the latest evidence-based ways to practice, teach, and embed empathy within healthcare settings.

We’ll be joined by experts in empathy, including key speaker Professor Jodi Halpern, Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities, University of California, Berkeley, who will be discussing challenges to clinical empathy, Professor Stewart Mercer, Professor of Primary Care Research, University of Glasgow, plus Dr Sian Rees and Dr Jeremy Howick from the Oxford Empathy Programme, and Dr Brian Donley, Orthopaedic Surgeon and CEO of Cleveland Clinic.

Delegates can expect a rounded view and learn about the role and importance of empathy in healthcare from current research, education, policy, practice and patient perspectives. This interactive meeting presents the opportunity to meet and discuss with an expert panel who specialise in empathy in healthcare and the chance to contribute to the field by presenting oral presentations and posters showcasing research, education, policy, practice and patient perspectives on empathy in healthcare.    

Topics include: 

  • Evidence-based practice, how to teach and embed empath in healthcare
  • The role of humans for promoting empathy in the digital age  
  • Consolidate and expand the growing global network of empathy researchers and teachers, and to position the UK as a leader for healthcare empathy research and practice  

In the words of the great physician, Sir William Osler “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”


Call for papers and posters

Applications for brief presentations or posters are now open. Any topic related to empathy in healthcare will be acceptable, especially those on:

  • The nature of therapeutic empathy
  • How to teach empathy
  • The relationship between empathy and technology
  • How to make organisations more empathetic

In order to apply, please provide a brief (maximum 200 word) abstract, and state whether you prefer to give a presentation or poster.



  • The best poster: certificate and £100 voucher
  • The best presentation: certificate and £100 voucher

Runners up:

  • 2 x runner up posters: certificate and commemorative RSM glass
  • 2 x runner up presentations: certificate and commemorative RSM glass

Deadline: Tuesday 1 October 2019

Please send submissions to open@rsm.ac.uk.

Key speakers

Professor Jodi Halpern

Professor Jodi Halpern

Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities, UC Berkeley, in the Joint Medical Program and the School of Public Health. 

Speaker's biography

Professor Halpern is co-founder of the Berkeley Group for the Ethics and Regulation of Innovative Technologies.


Her work brings together psychiatry, philosophy, affective forecasting and decision neuroscience to study how people imagine and change their own – and each other’s – future possibilities.


Her foundational work on on clinical empathy has helped make medical care more patient-centered.


For more information on Professor Halpern please click here

Professor Stewart Mercer

Professor Stewart Mercer

Professor of Primary Care and Multimorbidity, and Director of Scottish School of Primary Care, Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh


View the programme

Registration, coffee and tea

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, President, Royal Society of Medicine, and Dr Jeremy Howick, Director, Oxford Empathy Programme, University of Oxford

Session one: Evidence

I am not a difficult patient - honest

Mr Jonathan Broad, Associate Director of Patient and Public Involvement, South West Academic Health Science Network, Exeter

Why every healthcare consultation needs a dose of empathy

Dr Jeremy Howick

Measuring empathy and its effects in primary care

Professor Stewart Mercer, Professor of Primary Care and Multimorbidity, and Director of the Scottish School of Primary Care, Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh

Panel discussion
Tea and coffee break

Session two: Workshops

Workshop A: Self, Kinaesthetic, Reflective and Imaginative Empathy: An introductory workshop

Dr Lidewij Niezink, Independent scholar and practitioner and Co-Founder of Empathic Intervision, Independent, France, and Dr Katherine Train PhD, Co-Founder Empathic Intervision, Independent Practitioner, South Africa

Workshop B: Sustaining Empathy

Dr Siân Rees, Director, Patient and Public Involvement, Oxford AHSN, and Dr Paquita de Zulueta, President, Open Section Royal Society of Medicine, and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Imperial College London 

Workshop C: Establishing an empathy-focused curriculum at Leicester Medical School

Dr Rachel Winter, Academic Clinical Lecturer Medical Education and SpR Old Age Psychiatry, University of Leicester

Workshop D: Presentations AM

1. Surgeons and Empathy

Dr Mihir Trivedy MBBS MRCS PGDip, Core Trainee General Surgery, Royal Bolton Hospital

2. Empathy in healthcare for people with learning disabilities and autism: how pictorial narrative helps

Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins, Emeritus Professor, St George’s University of London and Cross bench life peer, House of Lords

3. Introducing a Tea and Empathy style support service 

Dr Sarah Maan, Respiratory Trust Grade Registrar and Dr Hattie Roebuck, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Colchester General Hospital


Poster viewing

Session three: Policy and education

Empathy in context

Dr Siân Rees

Challenges to clinical empathy

Professor Jodi Halpern, MD, PhD, Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities, University of California, Berkeley

Session four: Workshops

Workshop E: Schwartz Rounds and the practice of empathy

Mr Julian Groves, Head of Staff Experience Programmes, The Point of Care Foundation and Rhiannon Barker, Point of Care Associate, The Point of Care Foundation

Workshop F: Empathy, automation and artificial intelligence in healthcare

Mr Tim Horton, Assistant Director, Improvement Team, Health Foundation, and Mr Tom Hardie, Improvement Fellow, Health Foundation

Workshop G: The ethics of empathic positive communication — a masterclass

Dr Andrew N Papanikitas FRCGP, PhD, Senior Clinical Researcher, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, and Dr Jeremy Howick

Workshop H: Presentations PM

1. Empathy and empathic dissonance - the views of Physician Associate students

Dr William Laughey, General Practitioner and Clinical Tutor, Hull York Medical School, Dr Megan Brown, Dr Gabrielle Finn, Hull York Medical School, University of York

2. Training program to enhance empathy and non-verbal communication skills: A pilot study and co-production

Dr Nozomi Akanuma, Consultant Psychiatrist, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

3. Empathica - concept to intervention

Dr Felicity Bishop, Associate Professor, University of Southampton and Dr Kirsten A. Smith, Research Fellow, University of Southampton

Tea and coffee break

Poster viewing

Session five: Culture and organisation

Creating a culture of empathy at the Cleveland Clinic

Dr Brian Donley, Chief Executive, Cleveland Clinic London

Interactive session

Building a culture of empathy within healthcare

Facilitated by organising committee

Summing-up and poster prizes

Dr Paquita de Zulueta, and Dr Jeremy Howick

Close of meeting

Dr Siân Rees 

Drinks reception


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