In Final Exam, Dr. Chen takes the reader through her evolution with perceptions of death and mortality. She discusses personal feelings regarding her first dissection of a human cadaver. Later, she assumes responsibility for the accidental death of a patient in her care. Ultimately, she concludes that the role of doctors with patients and their loved ones should include more of the emotional comfort that traditionally has been missing too often. She adds that medical schools should educate doctors more in these caregiving strategies.
This book has important implications for hospice care. If doctors embrace Dr. Chen’s way of thinking, they will replace their feelings of failure when patients can no longer be cured with feelings of commitment to non-curative hospice care. They will recommend these options to patients more readily and increase the number of patients receiving quality health care at the end of their lives. In other words, they will “get” it and be comfortable with that knowledge.