Online course in Health & Psychology

Developing Clinical Empathy: Making a Difference in Patient Care

Discover the difference empathy can make to patient care, and improve your own clinical empathy.

Developing Clinical Empathy: Making a Difference in Patient Care

  • Duration 2 weeks
  • Weekly study 2 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $69 Find out more

Understand empathy, and improve your own empathic ability

Showing an understanding of a patient’s situation is one of the most important relationship-building skills that a healthcare provider can have. This is widely recognised in healthcare: the NHS in the UK recruits for compassion as one of its core values, and medical schools look for this in applicants at admissions interviews.

This course will help you develop an empathic practice that is individualised and attuned to the needs of all patients. You will learn about different types of empathy, explore non-verbal cues, and understand key opportunities for showing empathy in clinical care.

What topics will you cover?

  • What is empathy?
  • The importance of empathy in healthcare
  • Empathetic opportunities and responses
  • The challenges of showing empathy
  • Building resilience

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Describe the difference between empathy and sympathy
  • Explore the use of emotional and cognitive empathy
  • Explore the importance of empathy in healthcare
  • Identify empathic opportunities
  • Reflect on verbal and non-verbal empathic responses
  • Discuss the challenges of being empathic as a healthcare professional
  • Identify the importance of self-awareness and building resilience for empathic practice

Who is the course for?

The course is suitable for anybody engaged in healthcare who interacts with patients and would like to develop their empathic practice. This may include undergraduate students undertaking medical or healthcare-focused degrees, or even those looking to work in healthcare or applying to study healthcare qualifications. The learning outcomes for this course are transferable across all healthcare specialities and can be applied worldwide regardless of the type of the health care system.

If you’re a healthcare professional, you may find it useful to upgrade this course to support your continuing professional development (CPD). By upgrading, you’ll be able to take this course at your own pace and revisit the material at any time in future. Once you complete the course, you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement as evidence of your CPD. This includes details of what you learnt and the number of learning hours required.

Who will you learn with?

Angela Kubacki

Angela Kubacki

I am a Health Psychologist and a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Communication. I wake up each morning ready to make a difference to the lives of patients and health care professionals.

Katherine Joekes

Katherine Joekes

I am Head of Clinical Communication at St George’s, University of London, working with medical students and clinicians on developing effective communication skills. I have a PhD in Health Psychology.

Elaine Mealey

Elaine Mealey

Elaine Mealey is a Lecturer in Clinical Communication at St George’s, University of London.

Amy Spatz

Amy Spatz

Amy Spatz is a lecturer in Clinical Communication. She has a PgCert in Medical Education; an MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology and is currently working on a Phd on mindfulness and empathy.

Karen Lobb-Rossini

Karen Lobb-Rossini

Karen is a Lecturer in Clinical Communication at St.Georges Medical School & UCL. She has a MSc in Human Sexuality and specialises in sexual dysfunction. Karen also has a background in child health.

Who developed the course?

St George’s is the UK’s only university dedicated to medical and health sciences education, training and research.

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.


Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 4 weeks


Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • A print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

Unlimited (New!)
$239 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.