Meaningful Medicine Brings Empathy to Medical Education

by Katie Bradley | Jan 18, 2017

Nearly 80 first- and second-year medical students, along with faculty from the Marian University College of Medicine, participated on a workshop aimed at teaching physicians how to care more effectively for patients coming from environments of poverty.

The workshop, Bridges Out of Poverty, centered on barriers to healthcare for patients in poverty, including mental models, family structure, and the “hidden rules” of economic class.

Emily Young, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics and co-director of the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MU-COM) Meaningful Medicine Mentoring Program, brought the workshop to the university after receiving requests from students looking to learn more about the special needs of patients who live in poverty.

“It really gives you a better perspective and a better understanding of why a patient might make a particular decision over another,” Dr. Young said. “It can open our eyes up as physicians to more empathetically care for the patient. The most important takeaway is perspective, that we can see things from multiple points of view and care for patients more effectively than if we had never understood another perspective.”  

When exploring why students sought more information about patients in poverty, Dr. Young sees a connection between the students who chose Marian University and the Franciscan sponsorship values embedded in university culture.

 “Our culture at Marian draws students who have similar values,” Dr. Young said. “We have a lot of really wonderful, thoughtful students here.”

Co-sponsored by the Indiana Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and MU-COM Meaningful Medicine Mentoring Program, the workshop served as one didactic in a wider series of sessions put on through the Meaningful Medicine Mentoring Program.

The mentoring program began in 2013 and has expanded as a result of grant funding from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. The program serves as a one-year elective course for first- and second-year medical students that includes mentoring from area physicians and a didactic series aimed at supplementing the regular curriculum.    

The group meets once a month. Upcoming events include a patient panel about living with disabilities, a prison doctor speaking about caring for the incarcerated, and Sister Anne Brooks, DO, speaking about the clinic she runs in Tutwiler, Mississippi.

To learn more about The Meaningful Medicine Mentoring Program, contact Dr. Emily Young at

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