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Charter for Compassion for Care

In 2010, a group of medical students from various Dutch universities came together. They discovered that they all felt that the medical training they were receiving was technical, lacking attention to personal leadership, retention of passion / enthusiasm, self-compassion and compassion with patients. They decided to organize a conference on these themes. They asked people from all sorts of groups - doctors, nurses, patients, members of the Executive Board, IGZ, scientists etc. - to think along with them about a Charter of Compassion for Care.  This meeting took place in February 2011 and 100 people delivered the main themes and words for the charter.

At TEDxMaastrict in 2011, medical student Salmaan Sana told a redemptive story of how he lost what was most important to him — his desire to become a physician — and how he ultimately recovered his passion.

As Sana progressed through his medical studies, he found himself missing what had made him want to study medicine in the first place: a connection with the patient. He attempted to fill that missing space through outside endeavors, to the detriment of his studies. One day, the faculty of the medical school confronted him and asked, “Do you still want to be a doctor?”

Sana wanted to know why he and many others like him had lost their passion — or rather, as he came to believe, their compassion. Having become familiar with the efforts of Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion to return the golden rule to daily life, Sana brought together doctors, insurance professionals and patients to create a Charter for Care, a document that placed compassion at the core of modern healthcare.


The COM-Passion for Care Charter, says Sana, has several aims:

  • To work as a signaling lighthouse, bringing together in a community those stranded ships who are interested in compassion in care.
  • To foster and collect research that reminds people that compassion is not just “warm and huggy-huggy,” to highlight research demonstrating that compassion in care increases patient safety and recovery rates, and to encourage further research.
  • To make compassion an integral part of healthcare education.

The COM-Passion for Care charter and movement have been endorsed wholeheartedly by Karen Armstrong. The following is from the group’s charter:

We believe compassion in healthcare has the power to restore balance between efficiency and humanity, between control and trust. Being compassionate towards patients and their families is vital for a healing experience. This also means they need to be actively involved in a shared effort of care and cure. Being compassionate towards co-workers enhances teamwork and stimulates the passion to help and cure.


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