Volume 23, Number 2, Summer 2012

Always on Call: Thoughts from a Neophyte Physician


Jonathan R. Scarff and David W. Musick


The Journal of Clinical Ethics 23, no. 2 (Summer 20912): 175-176.


This commentary describes a new physician who encountered a patient in crisis in a nonmedical environment. It discusses professional obligations, ethical principles, errors committed, and reasoning behind such errors. Unusual circumstances, uncertainty about how to properly identify oneself as a physician, self-doubt, and discomfort with practicing outside one’s scope of training are recognized as reasons behind these errors. Medical students should be reminded of their ethical obligation to offer emergency care within their limitations, instructed how to identify themselves, and guided to become competent team leaders. Resident doctors should continue to receive instruction as they internalize ethical principles and identify their scopes of practice. Practicing physicians should be competent in offering basic emergency care if needed.



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