In a discussion paper published in January 2012, a group of us at the Institute of Medicine put forward some ideas about the “deadly sins” of public health. At the end, I suggested six initial candidates for the counterweight, public health’s “living virtues”: (1) moderation, (2) prevention, (3) preparedness, (4) empathy, (5) science, and (6) service.
I invited others to suggest what they would choose for the seventh living virtue, whether a personal attribute (such as “mindfulness”) or social value (such as “equity”). Among the dozen submissions received, three relate to the idea of working together (collaboration and partnership), another three stress thinking of the other (selflessness, altruism, and the golden rule), and the remaining half cover an array of others—idealism and leadership, prudence and evaluation, honesty and patience. See which of the following virtues appeal to you.
Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, PhD
President, Institute of Medicine