Henry A. Nasrallah, MD
At a recent morning rounds, a resident presented a case of a do-not-resuscitate decision for an elderly patient, which our psychiatry consultation service received overnight from an internal medicine ward. Another resident casually mentioned how physicians from other services at our hospital habitually call on psychiatrists to “make the difficult ethical decisions for them.”
That got me thinking. Psychiatrists are expected to analyze conflicts, resolve dilemmas, exercise good judgment, provide advice to colleagues and patients, and display a transcendent and objective perspective about the complexities of life. Psychiatric training and practice prompt us to be thoughtful, tolerant of ambiguity, and willing to tackle the multilayered meanings and consequences of human behavior. Indeed, developing attributes related to the most advanced functions of the human mind is at the core of our professional training and clinical practice.