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Acad Med. 2011 Oct;86(10 Suppl):S42-5. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31822a6ae0.

Relationship between medical student service and empathy.

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  • 1UMDNJ–New Jersey Medical School, BHSB Room E 1460, 183 South Orange Avenue, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.



Student participation in service activities during medical school is believed to enhance student professionalism and empathy. Yet, there are no studies that measure medical student empathy levels in relation to service activities.


Medical students from four classes (2007-2010) were surveyed at graduation using the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy-Student Version and questions about service activity during medical school. For two classes, empathy scores were also obtained at orientation. The data were analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. Means comparison tests were performed.


Mean empathy scores at graduation were higher for students who participated in service activities compared with those who reported no service (115.18 versus 107.97, P < .001). At orientation, students with no service had lower empathy scores, and those with any service had higher empathy scores.


Student empathy and service activities during medical school are related. This may have implications for admissions committees.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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