Conversations About Ethics

Cultivating Compassion: Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet

Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD

At a time when more than half of the U.S. physicians show at least one sign of burnout, compassion is an important feature of well-being. Compassion is characterized by insight, the intention to end suffering, and “attentional balance” – the capacity to attend both to others and to ourselves. Research suggests that compassion may enhance resilience. Cultivating compassion has potential benefits to both health professionals and the patients they seek to heal.

Dr. Halifax discusses how the traits that drive health professionals to end suffering can have darker sides. For example, engagement can give way to burnout, and empathy can turn to empathic distress.

Also join us for the luncheon keynote on exploring a practical, context-sensitive model for cultivating compassion through interactions with others. Details.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Participants will learn strategies for harnessing compassion to develop resiliency and capacity to attend to others. 


Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D., is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She is Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her Ph.D. in medical anthropology in 1973 and has lectured on the subject of death and dying at many academic institutions and medical centers around the world. She received a National Science Foundation Fellowship in Visual Anthropology, was an Honorary Research Fellow in Medical Ethnobotany at Harvard University, and was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress.

Continuing Education:

For both the luncheon keynote and evening keynote:

CME: The UT Health San Antonio School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The UT Health San Antonio School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 3.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) accepts certificates of attendance for educational activities certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by the ACCME.

Healthcare professionals receiving a certificate of attendance should consult with their licensing board for information on applicability and acceptance.

†This activity is pending approval of Ethics credit.

CEUThe Ecumenical Center is an approved provider of continuing education by the State of Texas for the following: LPC, LMFT, LCDC and Social Workers. The lunchtime seminar provides 1 Ethics Continuing Education Unit, and the evening keynote provides 1 Ethics Continuing Education Unit.

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Resource List

This resource list brings together websites, videos, audio recordings, books, and articles to supplement the workshop and lecture.

By Our Speaker : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Dipping Your Toe (Introductory Information) : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Wading Waist High (Intermediate Resources) : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Taking a Deep Dive (Advanced Materials) : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Access to Materials

Freely available Online
Available through the San Antonio Public Library
For information about how to obtain a San Antonio Public Library card, click here:
Available through the Briscoe Library at the UTHSCSA Faculty
Faculty, students, and staff may access these materials remotely using their Health Science Center log-in. Non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public may access these materials in-person by visiting the library and registering for guest access. Off-site access is not available for non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public due to licensing restrictions.