How virtue ethics informs medical professionalism

Susan D. McCammon, Howard Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


We argue that a turn toward virtue ethics as a way of understanding medical professionalism represents both a valuable corrective and a missed opportunity. We look at three ways in which a closer appeal to virtue ethics could help address current problems or issues in professionalism education - first, balancing professionalism training with demands for professional virtues as a prerequisite; second, preventing demands for the demonstrable achievement of competencies from working against ideal professionalism education as lifelong learning; and third, avoiding temptations to dismiss moral distress as a mere "hidden curriculum" problem. As a further demonstration of how best to approach a lifelong practice of medical virtue, we will examine altruism as a mean between the extremes of self-sacrifice and selfishness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-272
Number of pages16
JournalHEC Forum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Altruism
  • Medical professionalism
  • Moral distress
  • Virtue ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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