What do I do now?
Courtney S Campbell and G K Kimsma comment on another ethical dilemna
- By: Courtney S Campbell, G K Kimsmam
Both the moral and professional anguish that the medical student felt in response to the patient's request are vital sentiments which must be retained within the medical community. As the laws on doctor assisted suicide become increasingly liberalised, it is important that doctors (and future doctors) do not become so callous that they would dismiss such a request outright or, in the other extreme, so accustomed to agreeing to such pleas that it simply becomes routine. Instead, society needs doctors who can express care and respect as well as displaying compassion and dignity for the dying, even when these two come into conflict, as in the above example.
The patient's request also reveals the student's own sense of inadequacy because of a lack of preparation for such a discussion, as well as a fear which pushes in the direction of moral paralysis such that the student responds “on auto pilot.”