Care and Competence in Medical Practice: Francis Peabody Confronts Jason Posner
Marcum, James A
Medicine, health care, and philosophy 2011 May; 14(2): 143-53
In this paper, I discuss the role of care and competence, as well as their relationship to one another, in contemporary medical practice. I distinguish between two types of care. The first type, care(1), represents a natural concern that motivates physicians to help or to act on the behalf of patients, i.e. to care about them. However, this care cannot guarantee the correct technical or right ethical action of physicians to meet the bodily and existential needs of patients, i.e. to take care of them-care(2). To that end, physicians must be competent in the practice of medicine both as evidence-based science (technical competence) and as patient-centered art (ethical competence). Only then, I argue, can physicians take care of (care(2)) patients' bodily and existential needs in a compassionate and comprehensive manner. Importantly, although care(1) precedes competence, competence--both technical and ethical--is required for genuine care(2), which in turn reinforces an authentic care(1). I utilize the play Wit, especially the character Jason Posner, and Francis Peabody's exposition on caring for patients, to illustrate the role of care and competence in contemporary medical practice.
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