Leadership in palliative medicine: moral, ethical and educational

BMC Medical Ethics 19 (1):55 (2018)
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Making particular use of Shale’s analysis, this paper discusses the notion of leadership in the context of palliative medicine. Whilst offering a critical perspective, I build on the philosophy of palliative care offered by Randall and Downie and suggest that the normative structure of this medical speciality has certain distinctive features, particularly when compared to that of medicine more generally. I discuss this in terms of palliative medicine’s distinctive morality or ethos, albeit one that should still be seen in terms of medical morality or the ethos of medicine. I argue that, in the context of multi-disciplinary teamwork, the particular ethos of palliative medicine means that healthcare professionals who work within this speciality are presented with distinct opportunities for leadership and the dissemination of the moral and ethical norms that guide their practice. I expand on the nature of this opportunity by further engaging with Shale’s work on leadership in medicine, and by more fully articulating the notion of moral ethos in medicine and its relation to the more formal notion of medical ethics. Finally, and with reference to the idea of medical education as both on going and as an apprenticeship, I suggest that moral and ethical leadership in palliative medicine may have an inherently educational quality and a distinctively pedagogical dimension. The nature of palliative medicine is such that it often involves caring for patients who are still receiving treatment from other specialists. Whilst this can create tension, it also provides an opportunity for palliative care professionals to disseminate the philosophy that underpins their practice, and to offer leadership with regard to the moral and ethical challenges that arise in the context of End of Life Care.



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Nathan Emmerich
Queen's University, Belfast (PhD)

Citations of this work

Managing the moral expansion of medicine.Bjørn Hofmann - 2022 - BMC Medical Ethics 23 (1):1-13.

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