Medical Education as Moral Formation: An Aristotelian Account of Medical Professionalsim
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Volume 53, Number 1, pp. 87-105.
By Warren A. Kinghorn
The medical professionalism movement, bolstered by many influential
medical organizations and institutions, has in the last decade produced
a number of conceptual definitions of professionalism and a number of
concrete proposals for its measurement and teaching. These projects,
however laudable, are misguided when they treat professionalism as a
unitary descriptive concept rather than as a contested and therefore
primarily evaluative one; when they conceive professionalism as a
domain of medical practice separable in principle from other domains;
and when they treat professionalism as, in principle, a specifiable
goal or product of sufficiently well designed educational curricula.
The logic of professionalism-as-product corresponds to the logic of techne (art or practical skill) in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics.
Aristotle provides a cogent argument, however, that the moral
excellences denoted by "professionalism" cannot be "produced" or even
prespecified in the concrete; rather, they must be acquired through
long practice under the careful concrete guidance of teachers who
themselves embody these moral excellences. Phronesis (practical wisdom) rather than techne
must therefore be the guiding logic of educational initiatives in
medical professional formation, with particular emphasis on close
mentorship and on the moral character both of students and of those who
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(Something interesting I found)Posted: Wednesday, March 3, 2010