In a multicultural society, ethnocultural empathy has become an important element in most health settings and development of this capacity has become a central component for health care professionals in their interactions with patients and clients. In this study, differences in basic empathy and ethnocultural empathy were explored in a sample of 365 undergraduate students at the beginning and end of four master's programs in health care (medicine, psychology, nursing, and social work). Results showed that it was mainly psychology students in the first semester who had significantly higher general empathic skills and ethnocultural empathic skills compared to students in the other study programs. Few signs of differences between students in their first and in later semesters were obtained. The observed differences may be explained by (a) levels of admission grades and applications requirements or (b) different cultures and expectations from the surrounding milieus in the investigated study programs.
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