• empathy;
  • emergency medicine;
  • residency;
  • education;
  • professionalism

Abstract. Objective: Residency programs only are not challenged with developing competent emergency clinicians, but should strive to develop caring, empathetic, and community-minded physicians. An exercise was designed to help residents experience emergency department (ED) visits from the patient's perspective. Methods: This study occurred in emergency medicine residency program at an urban teaching institution with an annual ED census of 94,000. On the first day of residency orientation, each resident was given a clinical scenario and registered through triage into the ED. Nurses were blinded to the study. The study concluded when the examining physician entered the exam room. Residents were then presented with a simulated bill based on their scenario. Residents completed a survey initially and at six months. Survey ratings were measured using a 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS) (0 = not at all; 100 = a great deal). Results: Twenty-five residents participated over two years. Sixty-four percent had never been an ED patient before. Median length of stay was 139 minutes. This exercise was found to improve resident empathy for patients on initial survey, 66 mm (range 16-71), and at follow-up, 66 mm (range 23-91). Residents found the exercise useful both initially, 50 mm (range 4-86), and at follow-up, 49 mm (range 15-81). Ninety-two percent of the residents thought the goals of the exercise had been met. Residents also stated the study changed their approach to patient care (45 mm, range 4-76) and made them a better physician (49 mm, range 5-80). Conclusions: The ED visit study enhanced patient empathy within residents and was useful in improving patient care attitude.