Amending the Declining Patient-Physician Relationship Through Medical Education Reform: A Postulate for Aristotelian Virtue Pedagogy and Its Amicability with the U.S. Healthcare System




Shah, Niloy

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In a complex and technologically sophisticated healthcare system, the utilization of virtues which emphasizes the art of clinical practice is often eclipsed by the technical science of its practice. Consequently, the training of physicians generally focuses on the objective and quantifiable science of clinical practice, which at times cripples the patient-physician relationship. To counter this impact on the patient-physician relationship, medical educators must develop and utilize pedagogical strategies to teach virtues to medical students and residents. In doing so, a character-based virtue theory, proposed by Aristotle, can used to highlight intrinsic mechanisms, namely phronesis and prohairesis, that lead to virtuous, continent, incontinent, or vicious character-based action. Further, a pedagogy, derived from a holistic understanding of Aristotle's works, focusing on effective means of situational discernment, character-habituation, and reflective systems-II evaluation of action, can serve the physician well in properly addressing the deepest convictions of the patient and fulfilling their expectations and desires for healthcare. In hopes of then maintaining and promoting virtuous action, federal and local medical infrastructure must publish quality-of-care analytics to both physicians and patients, thus imposing market virtues into a system of care through feedback loops. Hence, a call to virtue through education and infrastructural reform is necessary in the U.S. healthcare system, as it amends the patient-physician relationship and promotes the ends of medicine, through practical and humanistic means. For not to follow virtue is to give into vice.



Aristotle's Virtue Ethics, Virtue Pedagogy, U.S. Healthcare System, Medical School Education, Education Reform


Shah, Niloy, and James Marcum. "Can Virtues be taught in Medicine? Aristotle’s Virtue Theory and Medical Education and Clinical Practice." Mirabilia Medicinæ, 4(2014): 10-23.