Spring 2016 | Biology | Marquette University

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ARTS AND SCIENCES BIOETHICS INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE

Center for Bioethics and the Medical Humanities, Medical College of Wisconsin

 

Isabel Utschig, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology B.S. 2016

 

This internship provided an excellent introduction to the broad spectrum of issues that fall under the purview of bioethics. My recurrent activities included putting together a weekly summary of pertinent articles from several major journals. This project exposed me to a range of topics, highlighting issues that I had never had to consider before. In fact, that seems to be the essential role of bioethicists: to wade into murky waters and determine the ethical course of action in situations that we as patients may take for granted (such as consent) to situations that we may only encounter once in our lifetimes (such as in end-of-life care). I also had the opportunity to explore what is meant by “Medical Humanities.” Dr. Christine Montross of Brown University presented a lecture at the Medical College. She has trained both as a psychiatrist and creative writer, combining her skills to write two books and a number of articles that reflect on her psychiatric practice. She presented her latest work, Into the Fire, which features vignettes of her patients (appropriately de-identified). I found her lecture to be extremely interesting because of her recognition that medicine can never be isolated to just science: successful treatment is not guaranteed and diseases, particularly mental illness, can be chronic and involve some very complex relationships. From listening to Dr. Montross as well as my own research, it seems clear that there is a significant benefit, as well as need, for doctors to be trained to treat dynamic, multi-dimensional human beings, and not just to be trained in the science of medicine.

 

Throughout the course of this internship I had the opportunity to begin a survey of the complex field of bioethics: its range, complexities, modes of communication within a field, and the policies that can actually be applied after bioethics has been considered more theoretically. I also learned the value of having a bioethics center at a medical school: after reading many articles in medical journals it seems that bioethics is really an essential component of one’s medical training. A physician will always be faced with ethically problematic scenarios, especially when modern medicine has enabled particular complexities in issues such as end-of-life care. While I myself am not entering the medical field, I think is also important for the general public to have exposure to bioethics. We will all be patients at some point, and I think it is essential for people to be well aware of the complexity of situations that they may be faced with at some point in their lives. Additionally, bioethics touches on important issues such as resource allocation. It is important for both constituents and government leaders to consider these important issues.


 

 


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