Medicine in Contemporary Society Selectives

Course Goals

MCS Selectives give students an opportunity to expand their knowledge of ethical, social, cultural, and humanistic issues in medicine in a manner reflective of their own career choices and particular interests. MCS focuses on mastery of knowledge and attitudes related especially to the following core competencies: professionalism and ethics, communication, self-awareness, social context of medical care, and health care systems.

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Index of Selectives for 2015

  1. Becoming a Better MD Through Poetry - Astonished Harvest
  2. Children and Ethics
  3. Core Concepts in Geriatrics
  4. Decision Making in the ICU
  5. Gender and Medicine
  6. Health Care Economics
  7. Hospice as Palliative Care
  8. Implications of Antenatal Testing
  9. Pain, Drugs, and Ethics
  10. Sociology of Medicine
  11. Solving the Organ Donor Shortage
  12. Spirituality and Healthcare
  13. The Ethics of Hope
  14. Theater and the Experience of Illness

Descriptions and Syllabi

Course Title: Becoming a Better MD Through Poetry - Astonished Harvest
Faculty: Jack Coulehan, MD, Richard Bronson, MD, Maria Basile, MD
John Coulehan
By the study of poetry as it relates to the medical experience, we hope to uncover a closer type of critical reading (attention), an ability for a caregiver to understand and convey the needs and context of a patient (representation), and an appreciation of the common concerns of the healing professions and to explore the use of poetry by some physicians to inform their medical practice (affiliation). Note: This course requires time commitment outside the class day. See the syllabus.

Course Title: Children and Ethics
Faculty: Kimberly Fenton, MD
Much of the discourse in contemporary medical ethics focuses on the relationship of mature and autonomous patients to their physicians. The world of children as patients is therefore a unique world since these youngest patients have limited ability for self-determination and limited legal status as minors. Those who specialize in the treatment of neonates, children, and adolescents find themselves in a ethically and legally complicated world in which the treatment of a patient as a person is a uniquely challenging ideal.

Course Title: Core Concepts in Geriatrics
Faculty: Lisa Strano-Paul, MD and Peter D. Kuemmel, MD
Americans are aging and the number of people over the age of 65 will double over the next 25 years. Future doctors will require an enhanced understanding of the special needs of this age group. This course will provide students with a broad introduction to the field of geriatrics. Note: This course meets in the 3 to 5 pm time block/p>

Course Title: Decision Making in the ICU
Faculty: Margaret Parker, MD
Description Decision Making in the ICU will be a seminar series for students who want to explore this topic through reading, discussion, class presentation and writing exercises. Topics include the use of critical care resources, setting goals of critical care intervention, communication about goals of care, and the costs of critical care. Appropriate for students interested in health care policy, critical care medicine (medical, surgical, pediatric, neurologic), geriatrics, end of life care, health care resource management.

Course Title: Gender and Medicine
Faculty: Faith Consiglio, MS3
Gender is a complex phenomenon that includes the characteristics, roles and responsibilities of individuals that are socially, culturally and historically determined. Our gender identity impacts our health and acts as a determinant of access and adherence to care, a notion recognized by leading health organizations such as the WHO, UN, and NIH. Yet medical literature often fails to appropriately address gender or relates inaccurate information through misuse of terminology. This course provides a foundation in gender studies with exploration of several topics that intersect modern medicine. Students will learn to develop a framework for the interplay between gender and health. This experience offers a unique gender perspective on patient care and serves to enhance the development of well-rounded physicians.

Course Title:Health Care Economics
Faculty: Alan S. Cooper
This course will review the history of healthcare insurance in the United States, focusing on the problems of high costs and inadequate coverage. The course will then discuss how the new healthcare law addresses these problems, its prospects for success, and how the rapid changes may affect the medical student’s career goals.

Course Title: Hospice as Palliative Care
Faculty: Kathy Van Steen
This selective will present the role of hospice in the terminal care of the dying. As palliative care, hospice offers a method of care that is becoming more mainstream medicine, as it had been in the early days of medicine.

Course Title: Implications of Antenatal Testing
Faculty: Christina Kocis
The goal of this course is to familiarize the student with the common antenatal screening tests which are offered to prenatal patients and to identify their many implications for women and society. A field trip will be assigned for the purpose of observing an actual antenatal test including the patient/provider communication and interactions that result.

Course Title: Pain, Drugs, and Ethics
Faculty: Craig Malbon
Pain is one of the most common reasons that people seek medical attention in the United States today. Since 2000 it has been considered to be the "Fifth Vital Sign." For physicians the managemnt and control of pain poses many ethical problems. Among these this course will consider the increased prescribing of opioid medications for patients with chronic pain, along with abuse, misuse, and addiction related to these medications. We will also examine the special issues of terminal sedation, physician assisted suicide, the legal and ethical issues involved in assisitng people with intractable pain, and the special issues of children and minors.

Course Title: Sociology of Medicine
Faculty: Van McCrary, JD PhD
Sociology is a social science that uses systematic methods of qualitative and quantitative investigation, and critical analysis, to develop a body of knowledge about human social structure and activity, often with the goal of applying such knowledge to improve social welfare. This Selective will explore selected topics in sociology of medicine.

Course Title: How Can We Solve the Organ Shortage Problem?
Faculty: Andrew Flescher, PhD
What is the nature of End State Renal Failure and why it is such a devastating life threatening situation for the afflicted party? What changes are in store for an individual when he or she has the blessing of moving from a life lived on dialysis to one lived with a new kidney? What are the costs to a living donor---both in terms of the nephrectomy itself and over the long haul? What role does recruiting living donors play in terms of addressing the organ shortage problem? Is it ethical to pay donors to donate their kidneys? Would paying donors increase the pool of available organs? What options might there be, short of paying living donors, that might incentivize people to become donors? What role, if any, might one’s civic duty to help the neighbor in need play in terms of appealing to the prospective living donor? Over the long run might it be possible for organ donation to become like blood donation?

Course Title: Spirituality and Healthcare
Faculty: Michael Vetrano
Illness is a powerful spiritual experience for patients and their physicians and that both physicians and patients can experience spiritual growth in the partnership of healing. This selective will address some of the most important questions in spirituality and healing: How physicians can assess the spiritual resources of their patients? What do physicians need to know about theology and spirituality to effectively care for their patients? What role does the spirituality of the physician play in the healing of the patient? What spiritual skills can physicians use to speak more honestly with patients about death and dying?

Course Title: The Clinical Ethics of Hope
Faculty: Stephen Post, PhD & Brooke Ellison, PhD
From the early 19th century American Codes of Medical Ethics have emphasized the physician’s responsibility to sustain hope in patients. This is a perennial aspect of the “art of medicine.” Thomas Percival famously described the physician as “minister of hope and comfort to the sick.” Hope is variously defined, but seems to pertain to a confidence in future events and circumstances. What are the characteristics of hope? Is it different than optimism? What is it and how does it impact health, well-being, and even the will to live? How do patients gain, sustain, or lose hope? Is hope rooted in community, spirituality, evolved cognitive structures, environment, past experience, etc.? How should physicians cultivate hope in their patients? What is the relationship between hope and truth telling? How can hope be redirected effectively? Is there a biology of hope and of despair that impacts health outcomes?

Course Title: Theater and the Experience of Illness
Faculty: Guy Glass, MD MFA
What is it like to be another person? We as physicians may take our cue from actors, who, when preparing for a role, step into the shoes of their character. Aristotle (in his Poetics of c. 335 B.C.E.) first observed how the plays that hold our attention are the ones that allow us to identify with the very human flaws and weaknesses of their characters. Later, during the 18th century Enlightenment, Schiller explored the potential of theater to help us learn to be tolerant of others, including those who are suffering. Contemporary theater is filled with depictions of illness that can both entertain and educate. In short, theater provides a wonderful way to understand the human condition that is more real than any textbook.