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Bioethics

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Magus, May 13, 2007.

  1. Magus

    Magus 7+ Year Member

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    Mar 13, 2007
    I've taken some classes and done my own reading on ethics/bioethics and have been very interested in getting involved somehow as an undergraduate student. There is a Center for Bioethics at the medical school near my university, but I am guessing research would be the only way to get involved. Has anyone done any bioethics work in a different way than doing research? If so, how did you like it?

    Also, is it hard to get involved in both the bench type of research and this humanities type of research, in terms of different ways of thinking and time commitment? Thanks for any information.
     
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  3. Quix

    Quix Herr Professor Moderator Emeritus 2+ Year Member

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    There is a lot that can be done with ethics; it just depends on what you have in mind.

    There are a number of universities that offer ethics degrees (e.g., terminal Master's at Pitt, PhD at Duquesne (no medical school), PhD at Georgetown, etc.), which have varying theoretical vs. clinical components. A significant number are still concerned with policy and legal issues (e.g., cloning, genetic therapies, forgoing treatment, etc.) and have little clinical exposure. I earned a doctorate in medical ethics at Duquesne, which has four semesters of clinical work (the first six weeks are spent in the ICU (10 hours per week), the remainder of the first two semesters is divided up into different units (I spent several months in internal medicine, medical short stay, and the emergency room), the last two of which are independent placements - you are the ethicist on call for the department/hospital. I spent my final year as the ethicist-in-residence for the dept. of psychiatry. In the course of these rotations, we would be involved in case consultations (e.g., a patient wants to forgo treatment and the treatment team is stymied), policy formation (ethics committee and treatment standards), and clinical education (I gave Psychiatric Grand Rounds on the Ethics of Involuntary Commitment).

    There's a lot out there that isn't simply research oriented, but admittedly this is at the post-graduate level. I doubt you'll be able to find anything you'd consider significant until you have your diploma in hand (them's the breaks of being the low-man on the academic totem pole).
     
  4. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Not really your question but: Just be aware that if you are really gung-ho about ethics, you may be disappointed by the coverage you will get if you go to med school, and may want to consider law if you are truly excited about ethics/bioethics writing and research. At many med schools most of the ethics related lectures tend to be shoe-horned into the curriculum like an afterthought, and more often then not tend to be taught by an affiliated law school, not med school. Of course you can be a physician who works in bioethics, but the path of least resistance for this field is likely not medicine.
     
  5. Quix

    Quix Herr Professor Moderator Emeritus 2+ Year Member

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    Re: Law School and Ethics

    Yes and No. It depends on where you go to medical school, and where you end up professionally. In the several years I spent working in clinical ethics, a lawyer was consulted on a consult *once* - and that was only because the consult concerned the hospital's financial liability. Additionally, ethics-oriented university hospitals and medical schools don't follow this "trend"; the universities I've attended and with whom I have personal and professional contact teach their ethics classes with dedicated bioethics (Ph.D., not JD) faculty. There are also consortium relationships in which several hospitals share ethics resources (e.g., clinical ethicists). I've yet to see this "lawyer-orientation" in practicing ethics, aside from CYA cases, so L2D, if you have the data to back that assertion, I'm happy to look at it, because that certainly hasn't been my experience.
     
  6. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    All I know is that the several med schools I am familiar with all teach their ethics the same way -- with law professors coming across campus to teach, and the ethics seems to have been squeezed into the curriculum seemingly as an "ought to mention this" afterthought. I also know from my prior legal practice that there is no shortage of opportunities as a lawyer to opine, write, teach and lecture on medical ethics. I have no doubt that there are folks who get PhDs as ethicists and practice this way as well. My point was that medicine might not be the path of least resistance (or even the best route) to get involved in bioethics, and I stand behind that point.
     
  7. Quix

    Quix Herr Professor Moderator Emeritus 2+ Year Member

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    I'm going to have to disagree - of all the professional programs, I'd suggest either graduate philosophy and medicine provide easier access. The field was codified by philosophers and doctors; lawyers have had notable figures, and have some influence, but the bulk of practicing ethicists are either clinicians or academic philosophers.
     
  8. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    I concur with Quix. It may depend on the history of the medical school's bioethics program (it it has one) and the relationship between the medical school and the law school (if there is one) as to whether the bioethics education at the school is controlled by lawyers or not.
     

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