When Babies Die: Death and the Education of Obstetrical Residents

When Babies Die

Medical training and death may seem like odd concepts to put together in one sentence. People often think that medicine and medical training are all about life, or saving life. To a large extent, it is about helping people to live healthy lives as long as possible.

Everyone eventually dies, and some deaths are accepted as part of the natural order of things. Medical students and residents in almost any specialty see death at some time in their training. How doctors-in-training learn to see and accept death, and how in turn they may or not be able to help families deal with it, probably depends to some extent on the program they are in and how their medical teachers accept and deal with it.

I think that for most people, the death of a baby is harder to accept than the death of a person who has lived a long and good life.

Residents in Obstetrics will see babies die sometime in their four years of training. As an anthropologist prior to beginning medical school, I could not help making notes of the socialization process in general, but also of me in particular.

When Babies Die: Death and the Education of Obstetrical Residents is a paper written shortly after I completed my residency and was in private practice.

I would like to think that in private practice, I returned to a style more closely matched to my particular personality.

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