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Isr Med Assoc J. 2016 Dec;18(12):714-718.

The Dedicated Enough Doctor: The Limits of Medical Altruism in the 21st Century.

Author information

1
Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, Bar-Ilan University, Safed, Israel.
2
Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery Unit, Ziv Medical Center, Safed, Israel.
3
Department of Pediatrics, Ziv Medical Center, Safed, Israel.

Abstract

The unique characteristics of the next generation of medical professionals in Israel and the current model of physician employment in the country may pose a real threat to the high quality of both public clinical care and medical education in the near future, and to the continued flourishing of clinical research. According to the Israel Medical Association's general obligations for Israeli physicians, the doctor should place the patient's interests foremost in his or her mind, before any other issue. This has led many to believe that selflessness or altruism should be among a physician's core values. Is the application and realization of these obligations compatible with the realities of 21st century medicine? Is altruism still a legitimate part of the modern medical world? The Y generation, those born in the 1980s and 1990s, now comprise the majority of the population of residents and young specialists. They have been characterized as ambitious, self-focused, entrepreneurial, lacking loyalty to their employer, and seeking immediate gratification. Under these circumstances, is it possible to encourage or even teach altruism in medical school? Demands on physicians' time are increasing. The shortage of doctors, the growth of the population, the way in which health care is consumed, and the increasing administrative burden have all gnawed away at the time available for individual patient care. This time needs to be protected. The altruism of physicians could become the guarantee of first-rate care in the public sector. The continued existence of clinical research and high level clinical teaching also depends on the allocation of protected time. In light of the emerging generation gap and the expected dominance of Y generation physicians in the medical workforce in the near future, for whom altruism may not be such an obvious value, solutions to these predicaments are discussed.

PMID:
28457072
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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