Tensions and challenges in a justice-oriented bioethics curriculum for medical students

Amy Caruso Brown, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University, and our 2017 Andrew Markus visiting scholar

Two years ago, SUNY Upstate Medical University, an American medical school located in Upstate New York, underwent an intensive curricular reform. Previous required coursework in bioethics and in public health was reorganised and integrated into a new longitudinal course, spanning the first two years of the four-year curriculum. Within the course, students meet in small groups approximately once a week for three hours of discussion; each session includes two cases with a shared theme. For example, one such session focused on trauma and violence: the first case involved an adolescent who had attempted suicide, using a parent’s handgun, and the second involved a woman who survived sexual violence as a refugee and presented with chronic abdominal pain. Pairs of faculty with expertise in bioethics and public health guide students to consider not only what to do medically for the hypothetical patient but also how to navigate social, cultural, legal, and economic concerns. Working outward from the level of the interaction between the individual physician and patient, students are eventually asked to consider their obligations to advocate for individual patients, for their local communities, and for policies at regional, state, national and international levels, in order to promote human health.  Continue reading “Tensions and challenges in a justice-oriented bioethics curriculum for medical students”

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Tensions and challenges in a justice-oriented bioethics curriculum for medical students