Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Harriet E. Hayes

Degree Award Date

Spring 5-4-2024


medicine, mortality, medical education, palliative care, empathy and medicine, end-of-life care


Bioethics and Medical Ethics | Interprofessional Education | Medicine and Health | Pain Management | Palliative Care | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Quality Improvement


Practitioners in the medical field attend to health issues across one’s lifespan from birth to death and everything in between. A common conflict in today’s practice of medicine is establishing the true function of medicine. The complete reliance on medicine to ward off death proliferates the biomedicalization of natural life processes, like death. Biomedicalization is the process in which medical authority and its accompanying technology begin to control other aspects of daily life. With medicine’s ultimate goal being to cure disease and fight death, it interferes with the inevitability of human mortality. End-of-life treatment can be taken too far without acknowledging patient desires and values as they near the end of their life. Furthermore, the emotions surrounding mortality are something heavily avoided and rarely discussed by practitioners.

The question of how we can better prepare our nurses and doctors to navigate mortality in medicine guided this research. Common tensions emerged throughout this study including the general lack of preparation for the immense responsibility young professionals face in medicine; the difficulty of navigating challenging end-of-life conversations; developing the emotional agility to navigate one’s own emotions; and practicing medicine as a compassionate professional.

Recommended Citation

Dougherty, Maren. "Mortality in Medicine." Senior Honors Projects. Bridgewater College. 2024.

Force Open Access