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Bringing values, relationships back into medicine

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2007 - Autumn


Sarah L. Berga, M.D., administered a dose of idealism to residents in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences during Residents’ Research Day in June, calling on the young doctors to “make health the priority, not making money.”

Berga, the James Robert McCord Professor and chair of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine, delivered the 4th Annual Nathan Kase Lecture: “The Social Contract of Medicine.” As healing has been transformed into a business and health has become a commodity, she said, the medical profession risks breaking its moral contract with society. “Many people feel we’re not doing as well as we should,” she said.“Leadership in medicine today is seriously failing.” Part of the problem, Berga said, is that some doctors are “overly competitive.” Others are so focused on the “technical aspects” of their profession that they give “short shrift to the big picture.”

Berga’s advice? “Integrate the concept of professionalism—the morals, values and relationships that underpin the trust the public has in doctors—into the business of medicine.” She also recommends getting involved in the next presidential election.

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