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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 2021

  1.   Art and Diagnostic Observation in Medicine
  2.   Becoming a Better MD Through Poetry - Astonished Harvest
  3.   Children and Ethics
  4.   Challenges in Global Health
  5.    Hospice as Palliative Care
  6.   Health Law for Physicians
  7.   Pain, Drugs, and Ethics
  8.    Physician Patient Dialogues: Relevance of the Doctor Patient Relationship in and Age of Techonology
  9.   Spirituality and Healthcare
  10.    Telehealth: Docs, Data, and Disruptive Technologies
  11.   Treated Differently: Hidden Biases and Their Impact on Health Disparity and The Practice of Medicine
  12.   Quality and Safety in Medicine
Descriptions and Syllabi


Course Title:  Art and Diagnostic Observation in Medicine
Faculty:  Stephen Post, PhD  and Gina Polizzo, MD
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, MD , Richard Bronson, MD,  Maria Basile, MD  (Maria 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.  Note: This course requires time commitment outside the class day.   Attendance at four out of five scheduled meetings is required.  See the syllabus for details.

Course Title: Children and Ethics
Faculty:   Rina Meyer, MD and  Kathleen Culver, DNP, RN, CPNP-AC  and
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: Challenges in Global Health
Faculty:  Sisira Gorthala, MD, MSc

Description: What exactly is global health? Do we say third world? Or Global South? Who defines the problems? Solutions? How do we know a solution is working? How do we address timely care with inadequate supply chains? Where should people access care? Who should deliver it? Why would I go to the hospital if I trust my local healer? What’s so bad about volunteering in a clinic if I want to help? Growing populations with disparate cultural norms in resource-limited environments pose unique challenges. We will address as many of these questions as we can with the support of documentary, political comedy, scientific papers, and other readings. You’ll have a dash of theory, a dose of friendly biostatistics/epidemiology, and many real examples.

Course Title: Physician-Patient Dialogues: The relevance of the Doctor-Patient relationship in an age of technology
Faculty:  Jeffrey Trilling, MD
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: Treated Differently: Hidden Biases and Their Impact on Health Disparity and The Practice of Medicine
Faculty:  Phyllis Migdal, MD
Implicit bias is a key component of health disparities. Disparity in health and healthcare leads to worsening health status in vulnerable populations. Health disparity is described as differences in health status that is unfair, avoidable, and unjust. This course will focus on the contribution that implicit bias and microaggressions have on health disparity with particular attention on their role in treatment decision-making and professional development.

Course Title: Telehealth: Docs, Data, and Disruptive Technologies
Faculty:   Erin Hulfish, MD
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: 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: Health Law for Physicians
Faculty:  Julie Agris, PhD, JD, LLM

Please note that this course will be taught remotely in Fall 21
Health Law for Physicians is a brief introduction to select topics of interest to physicians, including the formation of the physician-patient relationship, regulation and liability related to this unique relationship and the status of issues related to finance and reimbursement in the age of health reform.

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, and the special issues of children and minors.

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: 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.