The Effect of Reflection Rounds on Medical Students’ Empathy

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Fred MarkhamJr, M.D. Erica Westlake, B.S. Jennifer DeSantis, M.Ed.


Background: Students’ decline in empathy during medical school raises concerns. Empathic physician-patient interactions positively impact health outcomes and patient satisfaction, while improving job satisfaction and reducing physician burnout. Reflection Rounds may be suitable for maintaining student empathy during training.


Hypothesis: Our hypothesis was Reflection Rounds would increase empathy scores of MS3s and results would vary by gender.


Methods: MS3s completed the Jefferson Scale of Empathy upon starting and finishing their clerkship. Students in the experimental group attended four 1-hour sessions, led by a clinician and pastoral team member. The control group did not attend sessions. 


Results: No significant difference in baseline empathy scores was found between the two groups. There was a significant increase in student empathy scores among the experimental group, improving mean score from 114.1 to 116.5, p-value of 0.04. There were no significant changes among the students who did not participate in Reflection Rounds. Differences were found according to gender, with women scoring higher overall than men at baseline and increasing after sessions.


Conclusion: These results indicate that Reflection Rounds can improve the empathy of medical students, and warrant further investigation into their effects and utility within medical education.


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MARKHAMJR, Fred; WESTLAKE, Erica; DESANTIS, Jennifer. The Effect of Reflection Rounds on Medical Students’ Empathy. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 9, n. 7, july 2021. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 19 may 2022. doi:
Research Articles


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