Medical Students and Veterinary Students Learn Empathy Together

Medical students and veterinary students

First-year medical students from Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) and first-year veterinary students from the LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine (LMU-CVM) joined together for an inaugural workshop on Aug. 17, 2018, aimed at helping develop skills for empathic care of patients and clients.


Empathy is an important component in both human medicine and veterinary medicine. In human medicine empathy is associated with improvements in health outcomes and quality care. In the veterinary industry, expression of empathy is associated with higher client satisfaction. LMU’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program both have robust, focused and innovative training on interpersonal skills as part of their clinical and professional skills courses, however key faculty from both programs came together to create a way for the professions to collaborate and learn from one another.


Leading the workshop was Dustin Pulliam, DVM, small animal clinical veterinarian and assistant professor of veterinary medicine for LMU-CVM and Gina Zulandt, DO, assistant professor of family medicine at LMU-DCOM. Faculty and staff from both schools facilitated the small group exercises, further exemplifying to students the importance of communication skills in both professions.


“This idea came after a conversation among faculty on the need for both medical and veterinary students to develop interpersonal skills to build trusting relationships with patients and clients alike,” said Pulliam.


Students enjoyed the opportunity to get to know each other and challenge themselves to become better communicators and faculty remarked on how engaged the students were both in the activity and with each other.


“Feedback from students and faculty alike was very positive,” said Pulliam. “It was amazing to see the similarities in human health care and veterinary health care when it comes to how we should be engaging compassionate care.”


All are looking forward to further developing the relationship between the two schools and plan to make next year’s activity an even better experience for learning a key skill for clinical practice.

 IPE activity

Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine is located on LMU’s main campus in Harrogate, Tennessee, with additional academic facilities in nearby Lee County, Virginia. LMU-CVM is an integral part of the University’s medical programs and provides real-world, community-based education in a collaborative learning environment. For more information about LMU-CVM, call 1.800.325.0900, ext. 7150 or visit us online at


The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. LMU-DCOM is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community, and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of osteopathic physicians to provide health care in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU-DCOM, call 1.800.325.0900, ext. 7082, email [email protected], or visit us online at

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