An Irish study has indicated that female medical students rank notably higher on empathy scales than males.
Wait—that’s not the news. Almost every survey ever has shown females are more empathetic, to the point where I’m starting to think it is almost certainly true. Not that I care.
The more surprising finding from the study published in this week’s BMJ Open is that the Irish Health Professions Admissions Test (HPAT, the close cousin of Australia’s UMAT) seems incapable of predicting empathy.
This, despite the introduction of a section on the test called “interpersonal understanding”, designed to ensure that students selected by universities have the emotional capability for their demanding career.
The findings from the survey of 263 medical students in Cork weren’t watertight; the gold standard against which the HPAT entrance scores were measured was yet another survey, albeit a strongly validated measure of doctors’ empathy.
But it seems your score in interpersonal understanding on an entrance test has no correlation with your subsequent degree of empathy at any stage throughout the medical course. Continue reading