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September 3, 1997

Temporary Matters: The Ethical Consequences of Transient Social Relationships in Medical Training

Author Affiliations

From the Division of General Pediatrics, Children's Hospital and Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle (Drs Christakis and Feudtner), and the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, Seattle (Dr Christakis).
Dr Christakis was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the time this essay was written. The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation or the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research.

JAMA. 1997;278(9):739-743. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550090063034

Medical students and resident physicians spend much of their training engaged in transient, time-limited relationships with patients, families, and other care providers. This article offers a partial catalog of the problems that the evanescent nature of trainees' relationships with others creates in their lives, the strategies they often use to address these problems, and the deleterious consequences these strategies may have on their behavior and ethical development.