Care for patients at the end of life has long troubled American medicine, not only in its failure to provide good palliative care, but also in the relationship between doctors and patients. Many efforts to remedy this situation have emerged: a growing and strengthening palliative care movement, better understanding of the situation of patients at the end of life, a sharper focus on the values and behavior of physicians in their care of the dying, and a more general effort to gain medical recognition that end-of-life care is just as important as care during all other phases of life. Great progress has been made, but there is still a distance to go. As the number and percentage of people who die from chronic and degenerative diseases increase, the physician skills and virtues necessary to provide good end-of-life care also increase.
The aim of The Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards is to foster those skills and virtues by providing financial prizes to those physicians, young and old, who have shown their care of patients to be exemplary, a model of good medicine for other physicians, and a great benefit in advancing the centrality of end-of-life care as a basic part of the doctor-patient relationship.
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