Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Professional Virtues and Vices in Modern Medicine

Professional Virtues and Vices in Modern Medicine

Enhancing GPs’ understanding of medical generalism

Professor Quassim Cassam’s research has explored what makes a good doctor, identifying the ten qualities that set the best GPs apart. Professor Cassam’s research into the best practice of GPs is directly feeding into the training of the next generation of medics, ensuring that excellent patient care is at the forefront of the UK’s approach to healthcare.

The challenge

The Royal College of GPs defines generalist medicine as ‘person-centred’ care, but it is difficult to define what this means in practice. Professor Cassam’s research developed a new theory of ‘person-centred’ care, and a model for how to facilitate its delivery.

His research showed that the delivery of excellent generalist care requires GPs to possess a set of professional virtues which allow them to treat patients with empathy, not as units showing symptoms of an illness. This would require a significant shift in thinking for many GPs.

Our approach

In collaboration with current GPs, and working with medical training providers, Professor Cassam identified ten key ‘professional virtues’ including:

  • Attentiveness

  • Curiosity

  • Lucidity

  • Detachment

  • Humility

  • Resilience

  • Empathy

  • Self-trust

  • Situational judgment

  • Epistemic justice

These were then combined into an online toolkit for training new GPs. Using this resource, alongside a series of workshops, doctors can share best practice and improve the care that they provide.

Our impact

Trainee GPs and their supervisors have benefited from the project, with hospitals such as Wythenshawe Hospital inviting Professor Cassam to speak to students. His one-day training sessions have discussed ideas such as over- and under-confidence in general practice, helping trainees to develop “a completely different perspective” on healthcare. Current GPs have also benefited from sessions held at the University of Warwick, with feedback highlighting that attendees intended to use the skills developed during the training in their practice and that they had gained new insight into how over-confidence affects care.

The web toolkit has ensured that Professor Cassam’s findings have reached a wide audience; hundreds of GPs and educators have already accessed the free site and many have commented on its value for both present practice and future training. The Royal College of GPs have designed an eLearning module based on the toolkit, with the module going live in June 2020. Professor Cassam is improving care for future patients by helping doctors to better recognise their own virtues and vices.

Learn more about diagnostic error and overconfidence

Access Professor Cassam's online toolkit

Discover more about Professor Cassam and his research

What is research impact?

Discover why it matters

More impact stories

Explore other work from Philosophy at Warwick