Emphasizing the Importance of Virtues in Medical School

Studies have shown that medical students have high rates of burnout accompanied by a loss of empathy as they progress through their training. This finding is alarming, not only because of the impact on the individual but also because of the potential impact on patient care. Medical student burnout threatens the core values that entice many students into medical school in the first place and erodes their professional formation.

In recognition of these pressures, staff at Ochsner Health System have created a course for medical students at The University of Queensland-Ochsner Clinical School that focuses on the development of virtues and character strengths necessary in the practice of medicine. Two articles in the spring issue of the Ochsner Journal take an in-depth look at the course.

The quarterly Bioethics in Practice column, written by one of the course developers and teachers, is a personal account of her commitment to the “language of virtues” and of her optimism about the training’s effect on our future physicians.

Virtues Education in Medical School: The Foundation for Professional Formation discusses the genesis of the course, the 6 virtues that form the core of the training, and the feedback from students who have taken the class.

Click to the spring issue to read how 6 virtues—taught in a clinical context—can have a profound effect on an individual’s outlook and on how he or she practices medicine.

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