Learning While CaringReflections on a Half-Century of Cancer Practice, Research, Education, and Ethics

Learning While CaringReflections on a Half-Century of Cancer Practice, Research, Education, and Ethics

Samuel B. Hellman

Print publication date: Nov 2016

ISBN: 9780190650551

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract

Learning While Caring is about what the author has learned during his half-century career as a cancer doctor. During this time, medicine has changed greatly. It has become more scientifically based, more institutionally located, and now comprises almost one-fifth of the US economy. Despite these changes, much remains the same, especially the primary obligation of the doctor to the patient. Also during this period, most of the developed world has recognized health care as a right for all its members. This has been resulted in greatly improved care for many, but not for all. For the last 25 years the United States has been experimenting on how this should be achieved, beginning with the proposed but not enacted Clinton Health Security proposal and currently with the Affordable Care Act. While efficiency and cost control are essential, cost cannot be the only parameter of success. Access to high-quality health care must be made available to all. Proper education for an informed public must include an understanding of the general principles of biology, while that of a doctor must result in a familiarity with the humanities and social sciences. An academic physician has three responsibilities: patient care, teaching, and research. These latter two, while essential, must not conflict, compromise, or limit the doctor-patient relationship. This book is about the author’s activities in all three endeavors. Since his specialty is oncology, this is the major subject, but most of the information is applicable to all caring physicians.