Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Physician as Witness

At the end of Camus' The Plague, the main character--a physician named Rieux--reflects on his role throughout the plague epidemic. He realizes that, along with providing care that had to be given "by all who...strive...to be healers," he bore witness to patients' suffering. Physicians surely have the duty to fight disease in most circumstances, but physicians always have the still greater duty to see patients and survivors through their suffering and thereby to bear witness to it. Perhaps that greater duty lifts medicine from a mere occupation to a true profession.

Annals of Internal Medicine Volume 147, Number 1

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