Couple Makes $42 Million Donation to Improve Quality of Doctor-Patient Relationship

Good things can come from bad experiences after all. At least in the case of Carolyn Bucksbaum, that is true. Mrs. Bucksbaum was rudely dismissed by a physician years ago as she tried to share with him how she felt. The experience has led her and her husband to endow The Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
The new institute will be dedicated to the training of physicians in how to improve their listening skills as well as the manner in which they treat patients. The Institute will be led by Dr. Mark Siegler who cared for Carolyn Bucksbaum a few years ago. The Bucksbaums were so impressed with Siegler’s empathetic style and his compassionate care they decided to donate the funds necessary to train other doctors to emulate his style.
“To care for a patient,” Dr. Siegler said, “you have to care about a patient.”
Besides the good feelings produced, improved doctor-patient relationships may improve patient outcomes, according to some medical studies. The new Institute will focus on training young doctors in the “soft skills” aspect of patient care. Some believe these skills are as important in successful medical treatment as the hard skills of math and science.
According to the NY Times, “Nearly all medical schools teach the importance of listening to patients and showing empathy. But the Bucksbaum Institute is an ambitious effort to put compassion and empathy, as Dr. Siegler puts it, “on the same pedestal as science and technology.”