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Compassion as a Golden Rule for Healthcare.

March 14th, 2010


Over the past months, i have been thinking on what’s needed to strengthen healthcare on a Participatory bases. Whats crucial, whats mandatory, what else can help. I wrote some thoughts on that matter in my blog about healthcare in 2014.

Sure, most of us have chosen to work in healthcare because they care about people, like to interact with patients and their family, visitors, colleagues. 
Still, sometimes we encounter a different attitude. What triggers this, is it ignited by stress, worries or maybe economical reasons like (the feeling) of being paid too less? What makes patients think about a Nurse as a good nurse, or makes a doctor a good doctor.  In studies and other publications but also in our surroundings it seems like mostly a good doctor or nurse is to be considered to be “listening”, “caring”,  “giving information in an understandable way” and “the feeling that my opinion matters”. Expertise in Medicine is just simply expected.
So, if this DOES makes the difference, and if we DID choose for healthcare : what is needed to boost these aspects.

A few months ago, i “celebrated” my 15.000th tweet on twitter. Looked back a year and suddenly some pieces of the JigSaw Puzzle started to fit, as i wrote in my blog about this 15.000th tweet,  but still some pieces left on the table.

So, i tossed in a NewYears Whish :

And i worked my way though the remaining JigSaw pieces at the table. One of the aspects is to let the patient join your team, but not only the patient him or herself, but  also the family and the informal care, for different kind of reasons. Also if your serious about this, you also have to cope with different kind of communication-models and have to invest in two-way communication also by the internet ánd have to be seriously in give the patient acces to his/her OWN data.

But besides all these steps, there is one you can not plan, nor buy : Compassion

As i wrote in my blog in my opinion is about real people, it is heart-to-heart attention as one of my colleagues lately stated. It is trying to understand what puzzles or is needed by the other (patient) and how to help him or her. Com-passion : it is both and separate a very important aspect of healthcare. Without passion, no great things have happened. Histories show passion and drive made the difference, not money, not legislation. Com-passion is NOT facing patients with a paternalistic kind of feeling nor feeling sorry for them. 

It’s is a concept that isn’t new and for instance a century ago incorporated in the work of “the lady with the lamp, Florence Nightingale” 

I think it is time to act together in a cause that makes the difference, to show our colleagues good examples of compassion.  Of course this movement is and hás to be broader than healthcare alone. 

Today, i came across 2 TED video’s. One i have seen earlier few months ago, and is the TEDglobal video of Karen Amrstrong and is caught in the Golden Rule : ” Always treat all others as you’d like to be treaded yourself”. 

Karen Armstrong is TED price winner 2008   and started the Charter for Compassion.  which isn’t a religious matter (alone) and is about educating and stimulating compassionate thinking.

The other video is also from TED but now from TEDxAmsterdam of Rabbi Soetendorp who, because of absence of one of the planned speakers, completely unprepared was asked if he could fill in the gap in the program.
He stood on stage and blew away the audience with a very personal and emotional story, and wrapped up referring to The Charter for Compassion


Overlooking my work, the conversations, the research and all of the other great things happened over the last say 15 months, these two video’s made allmost all the other pieces left on the tabel to fit in. Compassion is the key.

It will be my goal to create, stimulate, enhance and strengthen Participatory Healthcare with educating and stimulating Compassion in our own Academic Hospital (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre) in- and outside of it.

One of the ways to et this up ad running is to inspire people. April 4th, 2011 we (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre) will be organizing TEDxMaastricht, “Starring the future of Medicine”, with a lot of com-passion, inspiration, drive and hopefully  igniting better healthcare.

There are still a few remaining JigSaw pieces on the table 😉

I quoted Fransis in an earlier blogpost of mine, but will do this again, since it best resembles what has te be done next IMHO :

Start with the essentials. Then do the possible. 

And then suddenly you just do the impossible.

PS Update : March 31st, 2010 : Wrote about my “dream” for healthcare.



Lucien Engelen

2 replies

  1. I hope that this dream will come true!Like the dream of Maarten Luther King which has partially come true in America.Com-passion the Golden Rule for healthcare.Like the care philosophy of Hans Becker of Humanitas

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