"If you cannot tolerate that risk, you should never become a physician": a qualitative study about existential experiences among physicians

Journal of Medical Ethics 34 (11):767-771 (2008)
Abstract
Background and objectives: Physicians are exposed to matters of existential character at work, but little is known about the personal impact of such issues. Methods: To explore how physicians experience and cope with existential aspects of their clinical work and how such experiences affect their professional identities, a qualitative study using individual semistructured interviews has analysed accounts of their experiences related to coping with such challenges. Analysis was by systematic text condensation. The purposeful sample comprised 10 physicians (including three women), aged 33–66 years, residents or specialists in cardiology or cardiothoracic surgery, working in a university hospital with 24-hour emergency service and one general practitioner. Results: Participants described a process by which they were able to develop a capacity for coping with the existential challenges at work. After episodes perceived as shocking or horrible earlier in their career, they at present said that they could deal with death and mostly keep it at a distance. Vulnerability was closely linked to professional responsibility and identity, perceived as a burden to be handled. These demands were balanced by an experience of meaning related to their job, connected to making a difference in their patients’ lives. Belonging to a community of their fellows was a presupposition for coping with the loneliness and powerlessness related to their vulnerable professional position. Conclusions: Physicians’ vulnerability facing life and death has been underestimated. Belonging to caring communities may assist growth and coping on exposure to existential aspects of clinical work and developing a professional identity
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 12,088
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Karl Jaspers (1989). The Physician in the Technological Age. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 10 (3).
Gary Seay (2001). Do Physicians Have an Inviolable Duty Not to Kill? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 26 (1):75 – 91.
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2010-09-13

Total downloads

12 ( #135,285 of 1,101,947 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

7 ( #41,663 of 1,101,947 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.