The Project in Osteopathic Medical Education and Empathy (POMEE) is the first study of empathy in osteopathic medical education in the United States with a national scale and scope.
POMEE is a two-phased project which began in 2017. Phase I was a cross-sectional study of first- through fourth-year osteopathic medical students, and was completed in 2018. Phase II is a five-year longitudinal study slated to run from summer 2019 to fall 2023, which proposes to track a volunteer cohort of osteopathic student participants as they progress from their first year in medical school to their entry into postgraduate training.
Outcomes of POMEE provide osteopathic medical educators a better understanding of the determinants affecting medical student empathy. Data from Phase I has been used to create a national norm table of empathy scores in osteopathic medical students; data from Phase II will help educators understand student characteristics and curricular models which can effect positive change on empathy retention during medical school.
POMEE is sponsored by AACOM and the American Osteopathic Association in collaboration with the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and Leonard Calabrese, DO, a professor of medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. The principal investigator is Mohammadreza Hojat, PhD, research professor in the Thomas Jefferson University Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, and director of the Jefferson Longitudinal Study at the Center for Research in Medical Education and Health Care.
Phase I of the groundbreaking, nationwide POMEE study has recently been completed and its outcomes have been used to develop the first and only national norm table of empathy scores for medical students. This first phase of the project—the results of which are now published in Advances in Health Sciences Education—studied incoming medical student empathy levels and how these levels correlate with their choice of osteopathic medical education (OME). The second study, the results of which are now being prepared for publication, will provide empathy scores for first- through fourth-year osteopathic medical students, and relate their empathy scores to their osteopathic medical education, as wel as the students' personal characteristics. Prior to this study, no assessment had ever been implemented to study empathy on a nationwide level and no national norm tables existed to measure empathy in any profession.
The first survey administration during Phase I of POMEE took place during the summer and fall of 2018. and measured and examined self-reported empathy levels of 6,009 matriculating students from 41 osteopathic medical colleges, branch campuses, and teaching sites—a pool representing roughly 85 percent of all incoming osteopathic medical students in the United States. The study was conducted through a web-based survey that was administered at the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year to incoming matriculants. Along with collecting demographic information, the survey incorporated the Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE), an internationally-known and validated instrument for measuring empathy in the context of health professions education and patient care.
POMEE Phase II, a longitudinal, five-year study of a cohort of medical school matriculants from matriculation through graduation, is planned to begin the summer of 2019 and will look at when, how, and in what subgroups, changes in empathy occur in osteopathic medical students.
The published findings, and forthcoming findings, from this study include a broad range of data. In addition to serving as the only national norm scores to measure empathy in any profession, this data also provide osteopathic medical educators and others foundational insights into what influences medical student empathy levels.
This project has the potential to contribute to changes in the medical education curriculum and become a frequently-cited project in the literature of medical education research and empathy for years to come. It is anticipated that the project will yield key publications in peer reviewed journals benefitting from the synergy of AACOM, Cleveland Clinic and Jefferson.