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Ideas and Opinions |

On Humility

Jack Coulehan, MD, MPH
[+] Article and Author Information

From Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York.


Potential Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed. Forms can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M10-0038.

Requests for Single Reprints: Jack Coulehan, MD, MPH, Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8335; e-mail, jcoulehan@notes.cc.sunysb.edu.


Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(3):200-201. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-153-3-201008030-00011
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The new professionalism movement in medical education takes seriously the old medical virtues. Perhaps the most difficult virtue to understand and practice is humility, which seems out of place in a medical culture characterized by arrogance, assertiveness, and a sense of entitlement. Countercultural though it is, humility need not suggest weakness or lack of self-confidence. On the contrary, humility requires toughness and emotional resilience. Humility in medicine manifests itself as unflinching self-awareness; empathic openness to others; and a keen appreciation of, and gratitude for, the privilege of caring for sick persons. Justified pride in medicine's accomplishments should neither rule out nor diminish our humility as healers.

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