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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.

 How to Register:  Visit CBase -- Choose the Registration Tab and then MCS Selective Registration 

Index of Selectives for Class of 2027

  1. Art and Diagnostic Observation in Medicine
  2. Becoming a Better MD Through Poetry - Astonished Harvest
  3. Children and Ethics
  4. Dementia: The Great Moral Challenge
  5. Health Law for Physicians
  6. Hospice as Palliative Care
  7. Narrative Medicine
  8. Pain, Drugs, and Ethics
  9. Physician Patient Dialogues to Effect Change: The Relevance of the Doctor-Patient Relationship in an Age of Techonology
  10. Quality and Safety in Medicine
  11. Reproductive Justice
  12. Spirituality and Healthcare
  13. Structural Racism and Health Care
  14. Telehealth: Docs, Data, and Disruptive Technologies
  15. Treating Patients with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Descriptions and Syllabi

Course Title: Art and Diagnostic Observation in Medicine
Faculty: Gina Polizzo
Following the lead of the Icahn School of Medicine’s course entitled The Pulse of Art, this selective “harnesses the power of significant works of art to increase the observation skills and empathic responses of medical students.”  Courses on art, observation, diagnostic accuracy and empathic physician-patient communication are ongoing at many medical schools, including Yale, Harvard, Lerner/Cleveland Clinic, and Mt. Sinai.  This selective draws on art-based principles of observation in order to enhance visual diagnostic skills in physicians and medical practitioners.

Course Title: Becoming a Better MD Through Poetry - Astonished Harvest
Faculty:  Jack Coulehan, Richard BronsonMaria Basile
Through the study of poetry as it relates to the medical experience, we hope to foster a closer type of critical reading, an ability for a caregiver to understand and convey the needs of a patient, and an appreciation of the common concerns of the healing professions. This selective is designed for students interested in reflecting on their experience in medical school through the medium of poetry. It is open to students who have never written poetry, as well as to those who have pursued poetry in the past and wish to re-visit their Muse. 

Course Title: Children and Ethics
Rina Meyer and Kathleen Culver
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: Dementia: The Great Moral Challenge
Faculty: Stephen Post
Description: “Dementia” is technically a syndrome (a cluster of symptoms), involving a decline from a former mental state that is considered irreversible. It is secondary to many disease causes. A century ago the major cause of dementia was syphilis, and specifically neurosyphilis. Today, because people live longer on average, diseases of old age such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Pick’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, and others are the causes of dementia. There can be genetic factors both causal and risk related, vascular factors, and even protracted stress can contribute to hippocampal atrophy. 

Course Title: Health Law for Physicians
Faculty: Caitlyn A. Tabor
Syllabus   Please note that this course will be taught remotely in Spring 2024
Health Law for Physicians is a brief introduction to select topics of interest to physicians, The topics to be covered in this course include: medical malpractice, institutional liability, confidentiality, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), healthcare professionals’ rights and responsibilities (including professional licensure, discipline, institutional peer review, and duty to treat), and patients’ rights and informed consent.

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 has become main-stream, unlike it had been in the early days of modern medicine.

Course Title: Narrative Medicine
Faculty: Susan Walker
All patient care begins with a story. But how well trained are we to listen and respond to stories in a meaningful way? In this selective, we will borrow from the world of literature to develop our skills of close reading and reflective writing. In doing so, we will seek to hear our patients’ stories, understand the perspectives of our colleagues, and gain insight into ourselves.

Course Title: Pain, Drugs, and Ethics
Faculty: Kevin Zacharoff
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 management 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 assisting people with intractable pain.

Course Title: Physician-Patient Dialogues to Effect Change: The Relevance of the Doctor-Patient relationship in an age of technology
Faculty:  Jeffrey Trilling
Within the patient’s narrative lies a key to their illness experience and the meanings they attribute to it. These meanings may offer hints towards resolution of a patient’s impasse to lifestyle change, conflictual behavior, or other seemingly inexplicable act, conduct or demeanor. Through patient stories that I’ve journaled over 44 years of primary care practice, we will discuss the art and science of crafting physician-patient dialogues to facilitate patient change and healing.

Course Title: Quality and Safety in Medicine
Faculty: Jean Mueller
This Selective will examine Patient Safety and Quality Improvement strategies and evaluation techniques that can improve performance and outcome measures in the delivery of health care services throughout the continuum of care.

Course Title: Reproductive Justice
Faculty: April Castillo
Description: This selective will cover an introduction to the key principles of reproductive justice, the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. This right centers around the essential need for women and persons with the capacity to become pregnant to be able to decide when to and when not to bear children, based on the United Nations’ internationally-accepted Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Beyond access to abortion, reproductive justice assesses access to contraception, assisted reproduction technologies (IUI, IVF, etc), comprehensive sex education, STI prevention and care, alternative birth options, adequate prenatal and pregnancy care, wages to support our families, birthing centers that hear and treat all pregnant persons, access to safe neighborhoods and education, and more. We will discuss the current limitations on this right in the context of the United States, while also understanding it in a global health perspective. 

Course Title: Spirituality and Healthcare
Faculty: David Fleenor
Research indicates that patients want to discuss their spiritual beliefs and practices with their physicians, yet many physicians are reluctant to do so. This course will help medical students understand and overcome that misalignment by empowering students to respond to challenging situations compassionately and competently. This four-session selective will enable students to increase their skill and comfort taking a patient’s spiritual history, respond effectively to patients when they ask their physician to pray for them, assist patients who delay medical decision making while holding out hope for a miracle, and respond compassionately to patients who hold religious beliefs that support suffering as a virtue even when medical interventions could alleviate their pain. Students will also have the opportunity to reflect on their own spiritualities and learn how that aspect of their lives can be nurtured as part of their professional growth.

Course Title: Structural Racism and Health Care
Faculty: Cordia Beverley
In the United States, structural racism lays the foundation for the unequal and unfair distribution of opportunities that drive the social determinants of health and the health inequities experienced by racial and ethnic minorities. If it were a country, the US Health Care Sector which includes insurers, hospitals, physician practices, and biopharmaceutical companies would have the fifth-highest GDP in the world. Research has consistently demonstrated poorer health outcomes for Black and other ethnic populations, when compared to white populations. The Selective will define structural racism; assess the role of federal and state policies that limit access to high quality health care; examine the Electronic Health Record and other innovative technologies that may decrease healthcare delivery for minority populations; explore microaggressions and bias in medical training and health care settings.

Course Title: Telehealth: Docs, Data, and Disruptive Technologies
Faculty: Erin Hulfish
In the era of disruptive technologies in healthcare, clinicians will reach a new frontier in medical practice. With more data, technology and medical literature than ever before, how will the physicians role adapt to the changing environment of the greatest reforms in healthcare? This selective will serve to introduce the topics of telehealth and telemedicine and discuss the advances in field as well as the laws, ethics, regulations and the evolving doctor-patient relationship. The course will aim to review the applications of telemedicine and future implications to the practice of medicine.

Course Title: Treating Patients with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Faculty: Michelle S. Ballan
The Selective will explore ethical practice with individuals with disabilities with a detailed focus on how to communicate and treat patients effectively.  Physicians with decades of experience with this patient population will serve as guest lecturers providing a case-based learning approach to best practice with patients with disabilities.