Compassion Across Borders: International Disparities in the Vocation of Healthcare Providers

The following essay was the first-prize winner of the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education’s 2014 Dr. Kuo York and M. Noelle Chynn Undergraduate Prize in Ethics, an essay competition to stimulate self-examination about concepts of ethics and morality encountered personally or as a concerned member of society. The Chynn Prize is funded by the Chynn Family Foundation. 

By: Michael Menconi

Patient names have been changed to ensure confidentiality and protect privacy.

Healthcare professionals often refer to their careers in medicine as a life purpose—their “calling” is to treat the sick, mend the injured, comfort the vulnerable, and instill courage in those who have lost all hope. Doctors have a moral, ethical, and professional obligation—or perhaps duty—to do no harm and perform acts of healing, both of which were fundamental virtues established by the Hippocratic Oath over five centuries ago. For a field with such an extensive, prolific history of emphasizing compassion and care for those in need, it is expected (and often assumed) that healthcare providers treat every patient with a fundamental respect for the human condition, unwavering empathy, and superior levels of social and cultural competency. …

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