Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year! There is much to celebrate and reflect on for this season: being thankful, being generous, celebrating family traditions, and embracing the new year. This season is also an opportunity to reflect on what it means to have humanism in medicine. William Osler stated: “Let us know what kinds of people have a certain disease, instead of discovering what kind of disease a person has.” A good doctor-patient relationship is the foundation of good medical care and allows physicians to address the more nuanced, human, non-technical factors in patient care. Inherent in this relationship is empathy: the ability to see life through another’s perspective. Research suggests that empathy levels are high in the basic science years of training, and drops in the third year and again in residency, at two transition points when trainees gain increased exposure to patients. The stresses of limited time, high volume of patients, and limited control of one’s schedule may result in burnout, decreased empathy, and disillusionment with medicine. The great news is that empathy certainly can be taught, as it is necessary to build a strong therapeutic alliance. One way to strengthen the provider-patient relationship is to have strong communication skills. For example, listening is a crucial communication skill in understanding the patient’s story and taking a good medical history. Medical students admit in the early months that taking someone else’s sexual history was one of the most awkward parts of learning clinical medicine. However, to be more comfortable with taking ANY part of a medical history requires the knowledge to be a good listener. On behalf of National Sexual Health Awareness and World AIDS Day in December, Publications Committee Vice Chair and JSNMA junior editor Jonathan Batson addresses sexual education reform as a way to increase the health literacy of the young population . Imoh Ikpot addresses why it is important to take a good medical history. Invited contributor Isaiah Yerima addresses misdiagnosis. Martha Ayewah addresses how her experiences will allow her to develop humanism in surgery. We also revisit the topic of curriculum, but this time with the humanities, as Rosemary Attor advises all to “Stay on Track.” Adriana Prado and Juan Oves demonstrate how their passion for service fuels their desires to be humanistic healthcare providers. The American Medical Student Association has also included resources to further develop the humanistic physician. New for this edition are several book reviews for books that further discuss empathy and the doctor-patient relationship. One is from the international student trainee perspective, one is from an attending physician’s perspective, and another is from a patient family’s perspective. SNMA members are certainly ready to be humanistic, compassionate doctors. Jessica Edwards provides insights from the osteopathic residency interview trail. Your Story Matters returns for this edition, as SNMA Publications Co-Chair Cortlyn Bown uses her superb rapport-building skills to interview an SNMA member. (Think about which parts of the interview allowed for relationship-building with interviewee Tony Fuller). The mental health professions have a great need for rapport building. Our letters to the Editorial Board have brought increasing attention to mental health in African Americans. January was National Mental Health Awareness Month. In line with topics for our letters this publication includes research the “Healthy Minds Program,” which includes findings to further spur discussion on mental health in African Americans. In addition to our varied research selections, this publication includes the introduction of the 2013-2014 Satcher Research Fellows. Finally, the SNMA Publications Committee and the JSNMA Editorial Board have nearly tripled in membership since last spring. I am very, very thankful to have had the opportunity to work with several driven individuals on the JSNMA and other SNMA Publications. Look forward to our next edition of the JSNMA, celebrating 50 years of rich history. The SNMA looks forward to seeing all of you at the Annual Medical Education Conference in April!
Yours in SNMA,
Oluwakemi Eniola Tomobi
SNMA Publications Co Chair
Journal of the Student National Medical Association
About the Author: firstname.lastname@example.org