Renowned Thoracic Surgeon Shares How Doctors Can Increase Empathy & Compassion

Why is this episode on empathy & compassion important on a show about toxic relationships? Because your doctor–and other healers–need to be empathetic, aware, interested, listening, and compassionate.

Empathy & compassion in care is critical to complete healing and health.

Some care practitioners are wonderful. Others, not so much. You need to find one that cares about all of you, not just the numbers, graphs, and medications.

In your toxic relationship, have you ever been seriously ill or injured? What kind of care did you get at home? That’s a big moment, isn’t it, when you realize that the toxic person can’t be bothered with you, or take you seriously? How does your doctor behave? I hope your doctor isn’t a Hijackal!


  • How an earlier life experiences change Dr. Tetteh’s understanding of care
  • Why it often seems that doctors are more interested in time than patients
  • Hear his Human Care Theory
  • What’s up with toxic people’s response when you’re ill
  • Why you need to find an empathetic, compassionate doctor

Dr. Hassan Tetteh had early personal experiences with trauma, and the impact on him directed his life’s work. A Near Death Experience changed so much for him. Dedicated to The Art of Human Care™ (also the name of his book), Dr. Tetteh helps you see what to look for in a doctor, too.

In a toxic relationship–past or present–there is often trauma from emotional abuse. You NEED your doctor to see, know, and believe what is happening to you. Emotional abuse takes a toll on your body as I discussed with Dr. Elizabeth Hughes in episode 189. Dr. Tetteh explains why you need to truly feel cared for when you need medical attention. Empathy & compassion are what bring that feeling into a relationship.

Although he offers his acronym, L.E.A.R.N, for healers, it’s a very good approach for all of us in our relationships. Enjoy this…even if it sounds a little off our usual topics. It’s valuable!

OK, so I hope you now recognize why I invited Dr. Tetteh to Save Your Sanity. Don’t be re-wounded by a doctor who doesn’t really see or hear you. Your doctor needs to be a safe place to go, whether that is your medical doctor, alternative healthy professional, or therapist. Seek empathy & compassion in all your care-based relationships!


empathy & compassion in healing - photo of Dr. Tetteh and his book coverDr. Hassan A. Tetteh is a US Navy Captain and Associate Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and adjunct faculty at Howard University College of Medicine. He was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow from 2012-13, assigned to the US Congress, Congressional Budget Office, (CBO). Currently, Tetteh is a Thoracic Surgeon for MedStar Health and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He leads a Specialized Thoracic Adapted Recovery (STAR) Team, in Washington, DC, and his research in thoracic transplantation aims to expand heart and lung recovery and save lives.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Tetteh received his BS from State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh, his MD from SUNY Downstate Medical Center, his MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, MBA from Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School, and MS in National Security Strategy with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence from the National War College. He completed his thoracic surgery fellowship at the University of Minnesota and advanced cardiac surgery fellowship at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Tetteh is founder and principal of Tetteh Consulting Group, creator of The Art of Human Care™ book series, and a best-selling author of several books including Gifts of the Heart, Star Patrol, and The Art of Human Care. Tetteh is board certified in thoracic surgery, general surgery, clinical informatics, and healthcare management, and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Tetteh received the Alley Sheridan Award by the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education, was named a TEDMED Front Line Scholar, and is TEDx speaker. He’s an alumnus of the Harvard Medical School Writers’ Workshop and Yale Writers’ Conference and lives near Washington, D.C. with his wife, son, and daughter.








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