David R. Shlim

Co-author of the book Medicine and Compassion: A Tibetan Lama’s Guidance for Caregivers.  From 1983 to 1998, Dr. Shlim served as the Medical Director of the CIWEC Clinic Travel Medicine Center in Kathmandu, Nepal, the world’s first destination travel clinic. Dr. Shlim is the author of over 35 original papers on travel medicine topics, including the discovery of a new intestinal pathogen called Cyclospora. He was just appointed as the first outside editor of the Center for Disease Control’s Health Information for International Travel. Dr. Shlim has organized three national conferences on Medicine and Compassion, including one that was held at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2005. He moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 1998, where he currently resides with his wife and two children. He practices travel medicine, lectures frequently on medicine and compassion, and is currently working on his second book, a memoir of his experiences in Nepal.  

Title of UFCSH talk: “Medicine and Compassion”
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Compassion is a quality that is valued in medicine, yet there appears to be no direct way to train to increase one’s own capacity for compassion. The compassion that we have is limited by being unstable, selective, and often requiring substantial effort. Is compassion a character trait that can only be modified within narrow limits, or is it a quality that can be vastly improved through appropriate training? The concept of training directly in compassion is novel in the West. However, the tradition of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy is oriented around specific training in compassion. The idea that medical practitioners could grow in their capacity for compassion throughout their careers just as they grow in their medical skills is appealing. The lecture on Medicine and Compassion will explore the origins of compassion and how that quality can be made more stable and effortless through training. The result of training in compassion would allow the practitioner to more easily relieve suffering in their patients, and prevent professional burnout in themselves. The lecture is based on the book, Medicine and Compassion: A Tibetan Lama’s Guidance for Caregivers, co-authored by Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and David R Shlim, M.D. This book represents the first time that Tibetan Buddhist philosophy has been specifically presented for the benefit of Western health care practitioners.