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If you could stand in someone else's shoes... Hear what they hear. See what they see. Feel what they feel. Would you treat them differently?

These words end this incredibly beautiful video produced by the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. We spend quite a bit of effort here at On Being focusing on the sound of the human voice and how each guest adds to our collective discussion. We attempt to draw out the best of their stories and experiences in all its messiness and glory. This video speaks to each person's complexity, the stories that go unsaid but float just beneath the surface.

Titled "Empathy," this video was presented by the health care organization's CEO Toby Cosgrove at his annual State of the Clinic address on February 27, 2013. And it gets at a point that immunologist Esther Sternberg explores in her work and personal life: how new knowledge about the physical spaces of our lives can stress us, make us sick, or help us be well and connect with others.

For so many years, our hospitals and clinics were sterile, perfunctory structures that ignored the humanity of its patients and focused on the programmatic structure of its spaces. Ms. Sternberg explains:

"Hospitals are built like mazes because typically you have the old original small hospital building and then they keep adding wings to it, which hospitals until recently were designed really to optimize the diagnostic tools, you know, the X-ray equipment and the blood-drawing and so on rather than the human being that's going to be in that building. Airports too. Just think about an airport."

Folks like John Cary of Public Interest Design and others are at the forefront of a burgeoning field focusing on human-centered design. And, the nonprofit organization The Center for Health Design launched an initiative in 2000 called the Pebble Project, which uses an evidence-based design approach to "better understand the implications of the built environment on healthcare outcomes." They're learning how the built environment can affect everything from medication errors at cancer institutes to the efficacy rates of recovery with acuity-adaptable rooms (staying in the same room for admission to discharge) to the way caregivers work. They're not only collaborating with healthcare providers and medical industry partners, they're also drawing from the expertise of architects and design firms such as Herman Miller.

In the end, it's about human connection. When we relate to those around us by understanding their back stories and their circumstances, we improve the way we work, the way we live, the way we take care of one another, the way we relate going forward and, as Martin Luther King Jr. would say, building the "beloved community" that edifies us all.

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beautiful. I listen to my patients speak their stories and I know there is a parallel unspoken narrative behind what I hear. This video expresses the unspoken truths beautifully. Every day I ask myself, if health care were easily available to all, what would that change?

i have been a nurse for 27 years and this video should be mandatory for ALL people!!!! Thank you thank you thank you.

That's beautiful but would have liked to have heard how staff have changed the way they interact with patients and visitors and how they are actually empathising with them. When everyone is so rushed, do they actually have time to change the way they interact?

This is a rare look at what we should all be thinking about when we think of when seeing others healthcare needs or issues.
Realistically , as a front line worker in community health care...... Governments will never be empathetic towards a patients needs . It is about money and nothing else!!!
We , as a collective group have to change it !
Lobby more and let policy changers know we have had enough !!!!!

I agree, everyone should watch this.

Awesome video. Find more places to share it. This the intire world needs to see. It made me cry. Too many people walk through these things alone as it is. We dont need people not understanding the pain on top of it all. Thank you so very much.


/everyone deserves quality care, regardless of ability to pay.

Read Time Magazine, March 11, 2013, about the cost of hospital care: How hospitals base exorbitant charges on a "book"
called the CHARGEMASTER. The profit of these hospitals, both profit and non-profit ,is absolutley obscene. Yet they purse
people who cannot possiblly pay bills of $half a million +.
All Americans should qualify for the best medical care there is at a REASONALBLE COST..

Your sentiment is lovely & all about why we go into health care. But PLEASE don't call patients guests or clients or whatever the newest buzzword is in fashion. They are patients & we are there to help them heal. They are not at an Inn or a law office. I have been an R.N. for 42 years; still love nursing & have seen so many trends come & go & come again. But the semantics of current health care (no one has a problem- we all have "opportunities") makes me want to scream! And scripting by our administration. Give me the credit to know what to say to patients; from my heart.

All of my colleagues, and especially the surgical trainees, should see this

This video reminds me me that we are are connected and share more than we think. We have more similarities than differences.
It is about all of us not just ourselves. I really enjoyed it and it deeply touched me.

I'd like to send this video to the ER workers at Temple Univ. Hosp. in Philadelphia who treated me so abusively 2 years ago. They could use a lesson in compassion.

What a powerful reflection on taking the time to walk gently!

Love it .. it a great message

Very touchy.

Very heart opening video. Thank you so much, I will be sharing it with friends & family. Bless you!

Yes! I work with elderly and many of them are non-speaking, and what I have seen is that some moments they connect and other times they don't seem to be there.So I have worked hard to be kind, loving and respectful of their being. Very easy to assume they are not cognitive and not listening to what is said around them. Try hard to treat as adults with dignity, they are not children. Caregiving is a hard job for many reasons


How beautiful; how true -
but I really hadn't intended to begin my day in tears!

Cleveland Clinic Hospital, my hospital of Hope. For nearly ten years, Dr. Gary Hoffman and staff at Rhumatology, Vascular and Immunogogy have been caring for me, and now successfully reached the height of my illness to remission.. Each visit my husband and I travel from Indiana to Ohio having no doubt in our mind, trusting in the knowledgable care and compassion of CC doctors and staff. When I first walked through the doors of CC Hospital/Clinic my voice was heard and many, many people heard me … hands that healed touched my shoulder, spoke to me, listened to what I had to say, smiled with me, empathized. Going to Cleveland Cleveland Hospital/Clinic was not about pity, it was about healthy healing with compassionate care. Much thanks and gratification from all my family.

Incredibly powerful!

I work for health care and this is why I take my job so seriously. It really put it into perspective that one just cant put words too.

Wonderful reflection on the feeling of life

This video is so needed around the world. GOD, being a Sovereign GOD, did not write my life like those i've seen in the video; yet, i complain!......But when i saw this video, GOD brought to me that there are many people who are hurting, scared, worried, in panic with no hope (or very little). i must stop complaining (for i really have nothing to complain about) and pray for my sisters and brothers of this world. i pray for GOD's Mercy and Grace upon all; for GOD's assurance and peace; for GOD's presence and HIS LOVE to come upon them. i pray that we all 'look up' (to GOD) and call HIS NAME and HE will give us HIS peace even when we are going through low valleys and rocky mountains. For it will be GOD, and GOD alone WHO will get us over these rough times! That is my prayer for all. Amen.

I am a social worker for a community Hospice in NY and think this video is exquisite. I'm sharing it with many. Thank you so much for making it!

Need to show my kids.

Beautiful video.... just what I needed to see as a healing from all the pain and suffering of the Boston Marathon tragedy. To be reminded of our common humanity and the need to look deeper into the face of the suffering and the evil.

I feel sorry for myself andsome of my choices inlife. Seeing this only reafirms what I have always believed, there is always someone who is hurting more than you, or needs a better job, or just needs someone to say I love you. Life is funny, you don't think of this untill you actually see something like this video, or know someone who is ill. God bless and have mercy onall humans. Amen

You never know what impact you make on someones life by random acts of kindness. I feel we should all have empathy we should all go above and beyond.weve all had times of troubles and we should all remember.

Beautiful! Much food for thought! Praying in gratitude today for all the special nurses & doctors in my life!

It certainly opens up your eyes, and I can thank God for where I'm at today. While we all have some bad patches in our own lives being in a lull at this time is a blessing. Understanding some of the people's misfortune's in this video, is nothing compared to what they themselves are feeling. Thankyou for bringing this to me. KarenK

I'm an architect, so sensitive to building environments. That said, I also expect a hospital to be squeaky clean, efficient, professionally staffed with well-trained personnel and sensitively and fairly managed. I also expect it to be navigable, with minimum resort to the confusing concessions to older construction with respect to floor level changes and other awkward transitions. The "theme" and spirit, or ethos, of the place need to be maintained consistently in all departments and sections of the facility as well. I should mention that I also spent two years as a young man working in an older hospital as an orderly. I recall being told that the reason I was paid so badly was because wages represented the greatest cost of care. My argument then was that medical personnel were the ones providing that care, and should be proportionally remunerated. I still think so.

I am going to show this tomorrow to all our attendings and residents (LLU Dept. Family Medicine) at our monthly meeting.

Kudos! It is very nice to see a physician be aware of how important this video can be to our providers. Another comment said "a great video for nursing students." Thank you!

Experiential insight into empathy!

To walk in someone else's shoe's, hear what they hear, see what they see and i believe most importantly feel what they feel is a true connection with a another human being, not based on thinking rather based on connecting. An amazing paradigm shift from oneself mentally and physically to oneself spiritually and emotionally. It is welcoming to hear that a hospital has taken into consideration a patients wellbeing is not just based on medicinal applications, rather a whole perspective of a person's wellbeing with regards to their environment and I hope that other healthcare providers take this courageous step forward towards the care and wellbeing of a fellow human being. You provide inspiring steps to follow. Thank you

Beautiful teaching tool for nursing students. Kudos to creator-director!

WOW!! Beautiful video! Just be in the midst of those suffering.


Wow!!! Amen!!!

This a very beautiful and emotional video. But it tells the true story of how each of these people feel. Its right in showing how they are feeling and that we need to put ourselves in their shoes. I have been in some of them, and its not pleasant. God Bless them for making this and hoping it gets out to everyone. I, for one, will post it for all my friends and family to watch. Thank you again for making this.

Have you ever heard of the North Hawaii Community Hospital? Earl Bakken, founder of Medtronic, is one of their benefactors and is also a benefactor of The Cleveland Clinic. I encourage you to check out the "67 Things That Make NHCH Not Just Another Hospital" on their site: , as this hospital surely is in the forefront of healing today. Thank you for your wonderful work!

Simply heartwarming and heartbreaking.

A very touching and moving video, thank you

I love the video ...... I am sure many people watching this can relate in their own life being in many of the same situations and reflecting on the feelings they were going through.... It really makes you stop and think especially when you pass someone in the hospital just what the individual and families are experiencing. This was a lovely reflective film. Thank you.

Yes, Yes we would! I wish people were more open. . . Open sharing seems to be highly underestimated. I guess people are afraid?


Thank you for reminding all of us.

Vi är alla en och den samma.

its a nice video very interesting to know different kind of disease or burdens in their life every one has. we have to be thankful for we are the one taking care of them not that we are in their shoes.