The Diabetes Simulation Challenge is a unique training tool to foster empathy, a key facet of patient-centered care, for medical students. Thirty-two medical students participated in a 24-hour perspective-taking activity as part of their curriculum, during which they simulated some common experiences of living with a chronic health condition, specifically type 1 diabetes. Students’ written reflections were analyzed using a phenomenological qualitative approach to provide a composite description of the experience. An exhaustive, iterative method of thematic analysis that included manual coding was used to determine whether this activity led to expressions of empathy or thoughts and beliefs consistent with patient-centered health care. Nine unique themes emerged, six of which indicated that students adopted the perspective of an individual with a chronic illness. Most of the students’ reflections illustrated an understanding of the behavioral, social, and emotional challenges related to living with type 1 diabetes, as well as increased empathy toward individuals with the disease. Medical students who aim to provide patient-centered care benefited from this perspective-taking exercise, and training programs should consider using such methods to extend learning beyond traditional didactic education.

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