March 2025: Regret in the Moral Psychology of Surgical Professionalism

Regret has been construed as a kind of sorrow, due to purposeful or accidental action or inaction about phenomena such as “losses, transgressions, shortcoming, or mistakes.” Regret experiences are neglected in processes of professionalization among clinicians generally, and among surgeons specifically. Along a physician’s training path to becoming a surgeon, there are few, if any, formal or structured opportunities to reflect upon regret experiences and this is worth considering since, despite good training, best efforts, good decision-making, competent practice, and good intentions, some patients will suffer poor outcomes at the hands of a surgeon who might feel terrible about it. This theme issue suggests that robust appreciation of regret as a moral emotion and professional experience relies upon, among other things, investigating regret as one expression of a conscientious surgeon’s deep internalization of their capacity to harm. This theme issue also considers how we should regard regret and its kindred moral emotions—grief, remorse, shame, guilt—in surgical life, training, and practice.

We invite manuscripts for the March 2025 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® which consider moral experiences of regret and kindred moral emotions among clinicians.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration must follow the Instructions for Authors and be submitted 30 April 2024.

The AMA Journal of Ethics invites original, English-language contributions for peer review consideration on the upcoming themes.