Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Valuing Clinical Excellence in End-of-Life Care

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Valuing Clinical Excellence in End-of-Life Care

Article excerpt

Last year, The Hastings Center and The Cunniff-Dixon Foundation launched an important new award program--the first of its kind--honoring four physicians who have excelled in providing care for patients at the end of life. The awards focus on physicians because The Cunniff-Dixon Foundation rightly recognized that care at the end of life "has long troubled American medicine, not only in its failure to provide good palliative care, but also in the relationship of doctors and patients." The awards committee, which I chaired and which was supported by the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life, considered more than one hundred and forty nominations.

The four awardees exemplified excellence in medical practice in a wide range of specialties including surgery, pediatrics, internal medicine, and palliative care. The criteria for the awards included outstanding technical competence in the field, exceptional personal integrity, superior communication skills, practices that engage the patient as part of a network of family and friends, and practice and leadership within an effective clinical team. I suspect that the new Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards have already gained traction because they fill an important void, allowing us to acknowledge and value excellence in the clinical arena of end-of-life care. But the awards are significant not just because honoring the accomplishments of exemplary physicians is important, but because doing so illuminates the best in the profession, providing true role models for current and future generations of doctors.

The idea of role models is old fashioned but still relevant, particularly for doctors navigating the contemporary challenges of medical practice today. …

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