Courage and Compassion: Virtues in Caring for So-Called "Difficult" Patients.
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What, if anything, can medical ethics offer to assist in the care of the "difficult" patient? We begin with a discussion of virtue theory and its application to medical ethics. We conceptualize the "difficult" patient as an example of a "moral stress test" that especially challenges the physician's character, requiring the good physician to display the virtues of courage and compassion. We then consider two clinical vignettes to flesh out how these virtues might come into play in the care of "difficult" patients, and we conclude with a brief proposal for how medical educators might cultivate these essential character traits in physicians-in-training.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1001/journalofethics.2017.19.4.medu2-1704
Publication InfoHawking, M; Curlin, Farr A; & Yoon, JD (2017). Courage and Compassion: Virtues in Caring for So-Called "Difficult" Patients. AMA J Ethics, 19(4). pp. 357-363. 10.1001/journalofethics.2017.19.4.medu2-1704. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/14615.
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Professor of Medicine
Farr A. Curlin, MD, is Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities in the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities and History of Medicine, and Co-Director of the Theology, Medicine and Culture Initiative at Duke Divinity School. Before moving to Duke in 2014, he founded and was Co-Director of the Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago. At Duke, Farr practices palliative medicine and works with colleagues in the Trent Center an