The Theory of Virtue and Medical Practice
The Theory of Virtue and Medical Practice
The virtue theory endeavors to describe the driving force of a moral agent with regard to its ethical behavior, rather than consequentialism, social context or rules. These four principles act as the analytical considerations in the medical field. The virtue theory maintains that the conflict between these principles makes it hard to foresee the consequences (Pasek, J., Pellegrino, E. D., & Thomasma, 2005). However, it is prudent to understand that virtue ethics focuses more on the moral agent than on the correctness of the action. When human motivations, relationships, and emotional sensitivities are put into consideration, the virtue theory provides an ethical analysis and encouragement on creative and flexible solutions (Pasek, J., Pellegrino, E. D., & Thomasma, 2005). Putting this into consideration, I acknowledge that the virtue theory helps me gain a better understanding on how we should approach the medical field from an ethical context. I consider it an exiting discovery as well as a refreshing one that the theory of virtue influences positively how I think about virtues in medical practice.
Virtue ethics resonates with how I relate with my life experiences in which I consider my character nature to be fundamental. Ethical principles that guide me on the proper course of action I should take do not necessarily consider the natural aspect of the moral agent. Though I have to make moral decisions with due consideration and care, I think it is unwise to strip the attitude or affect the process and emphasize on a sole reason. Humanity is a complicated being with a reasoning ability subject to emotional reactions. These humanity reactions play a significant role in determining how we assess and perceive the environment and how it affects an individual’s judgment.
A comprehensive list of virtues is impossible to find. Nevertheless, the virtue theory allows me to identify with several virtues that should be applied in the medical context. The virtue theory makes it prudent to understand the essential qualities associated with the medical field. Among them is the virtue of excellence. Practitioners in the medical field have to practice excellence in clinical judgment. This virtue relates to how accurate the diagnosis methods are and how effective clinical principles are on decision-making. This virtue requires the necessary intelligence prerequisites of well-developed logic, intellectual curiosity, and critical thinking skills.
From this premise, I gain the understanding that appropriate technical and clinical reasoning does not suffice. In this regard, the virtue theory enables me to acknowledge that the tireless will to perform at the highest capacity is the excellence required. Nevertheless, the desire to deliver due care and consideration in the medical field should not be mistaken for calling every consultant or ordering random or unwarranted tests. Rather, it is necessary to practice careful balance between acting with due care and the execution of aggressive action.
Another virtue implemented in the medical field is that of loyalty. According to this virtue, a medical practitioner cannot always work alone. With medical practice at its center, delivering health relies on teamwork. Loyalty in this case poses immense value to the medical practitioner. It is a representation of his or her support, friendship, and providing guidance to other care providers such as technicians and nurses. According to Pellegrino & Thomasma (2007), loyalty in medical practice acts as a representation of camaraderie development to physicians and residents as a category. The loyalty virtue requires one to have respect for their teachers and mentors and carry on their knowledge to future generations. In my view, this virtue is a representation of one’s commitment and obligation towards helping other practitioners see their mistakes as well as accepting correction when wrong.
Finally, the virtue theory helps me think about medical practice virtues from an honesty point of view. In this case, I gain the understanding that honesty should be regarded the core value in medical practice. Medical practitioners in particular have to deal with challenges of lying, obscuring, or bending the truth as they deliver their services (Pellegrino, E., & Thomasma, 2007). This information may pertain to a physician or family member withholding diagnosis information to the affected patient. If honesty is compromised, it is not easy to regain the trust between the physician and the patient or the family member and the patient. For instance, an inquiry concerning cancer, as a possible diagnosis should not be sidestepped (2007). Integrity in medical practice depends on trust. One cannot be trusted if they are dishonest.
All professional fields have their respective core values that need to be followed by those who relate to that field. The virtue theory endeavors to explain the relevance of these core values with regard to ethical behavior. From my own view, the virtue theory has enabled me to acknowledge proper means of approaching the field of medical practice from an ethical context. With regard to medical practice, numerous virtues govern proceedings in this field. Among them includes loyalty, honesty, and excellence. In conclusion, I consider it an exciting discovery that the theory of virtue influences how I think about virtues in medical practice positively.
Pasek, J., Pellegrino, E. D., & Thomasma, D. C. (2005). Review of The Virtues in Medical Practice. Journal of Medical Ethics, 21, 3, 188-188.
Pellegrino, E., & Thomasma, D. (2007). Virtues in Medical Practice. Theological Studies, 58, 3, 574.