Medical Education and the Dying Patient

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Several recent cases illustrate the medical-ethical-legal consequences associated with lack of awareness in caring for and treating the dying patient. We question whether solutions advanced by others are feasible or desirable for use in medical education, and suggest looking to the familiar principles of clinical medicine. These principles can be used to acquaint students and residents with the clinical model of medicine so they can learn the differences between the rights and duties of those occupying the “sick” and “dying” roles. Once these differences have been understood, then the rules for moving patients from one role to another can be gradually acquired in the course of medical practice. The task now is to resuscitate these traditional abilities in the context of our times.

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