Should a Good Healthcare Professional Be (At Least a Little) Callous?
Rentmeester, Christy A.
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 2007 January-February; 32(1): 43-64
The term "callous" has not, to this point, been studied empirically or considered philosophically in the context of healthcare professionalism. It should be, however, because its uses seem peculiar. Sometimes "callous" is used to suggest that becoming callous confers a benefit of some protection against emotional distress, which might be considered expedient in the healthcare work environment. But, "callous" also refers to a person's unappealing demeanor of hardened insensitivity. The tension between these different moral connotations of "callous" prompts several empirical, psychological, and moral questions; I introduce and entertain a few here. I also suggest a distinction between callousness and inurement and argue for why this distinction is important to appreciate and uphold in health professions education.
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