Medical Professionalism and Humanitarian Health Care in the American Age of “-isms”
The 2003 IOM report Unequal Treatment documented the inferior health care accorded African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Subsequent research has shown that women, the elderly, LGBTQ individuals, and other specific minority groups also receive disparate care. Unequal treatment is often a product of subconscious mental functions including stereotyping and the neurological interconnection of the brain’s emotional response and cognitive systems. Because these functions are hard-wired, they are not easily amenable to efforts to eliminate them from our thinking. But identifying and bringing them to light provides the opportunity to counteract them. The ACP-ABIM Professionalism Charter incorporates ameliorative precepts including altruism, moral reasoning, and conscious commitment to equal care. Medical Professionalism and Humanitarian Health Care in the American Age of “-isms” describes how empathetic or humanitarian care not only improves patient outcomes but provides meaning and satisfaction that enhances the well-being of the caregiver and counteracts physician burnout and dropout.