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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Adrienne Carpenter, BA (Saint Louis University)
Description: This book offers a detailed account of the concept of moral courage within the context of healthcare delivery. By referencing historical paragons and hypothetical case examples, the author analyzes the various dimensions of moral courage — philosophical, psychological, political, and ethical.
Purpose: The goal is to help individuals and organizations overcome fear and exercise moral courage. While this is a noble goal, the diverse content at times distracts from the author's primary purpose.
Audience: The book is written for "all healthcare professionals," from those providing healthcare services to those administrating healthcare organizations. Accordingly, the first half of the book focuses on issues of moral courage in the context of interpersonal or workplace dilemmas, and the second half on moral courage in the context of organizational ethics.
Features: The way the book relates moral courage first to the personal, individual level and then to the organizational level is helpful for readers. The first chapter, however, attempts to present the "Virtue of Moral Courage: Socrates to Barack Obama" in under 10 pages. Rather than teasing out the philosophical nuances of moral courage, the author paraphrases ancient philosophical views on virtue, and then awkwardly jumps to a discussion of historical paragons of moral courage. The last chapter is superfluous, expressing the author's own "moral outrage" at the U.S. healthcare crisis. Instead of extending her analysis of moral courage into the political arena, the author's approach becomes editorial and muddles her goal of helping healthcare workers or administrators confront the ethical demands of their professions.
Assessment: Despite these shortcomings, this book still might serve as a good reference for a broad audience since it offers clarity and advice on numerous ethical problems. Throughout the book, numbered boxes highlight or summarize important data or concepts, and the end of each chapter lists key points to remember, making the book accessible and easy to navigate. The author excels in addressing psychological concerns of those faced with moral dilemmas, common ethical dilemmas that occur in healthcare situations, and concepts and strategies of organizational ethics. As such, readers are encouraged to reflect upon and develop personal or institutional moral compasses.