Hard Medical Choices: An Introductory Approach to Medical Ethics

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
June 28, 2021 - July 21, 20216/28 - 7/213 WeeksOnlineOpenOnlineJulianne Ip

Course Description

Mother: I do not want to live, no treatment. Daughter: I do not want my mother to die but she wants to...who decides?
Parents: We will not allow our child to get a COVID vaccine. Public Health mandates a vaccine...who decides?
Doctor: Your son will die without this treatment... Parents: We do not believe in this treatment so do not give it to him...who decides?
These are among many "hard choices" facing physicians, patients, and their families. If there is no one "right" answer, how do we decide?

This course will examine some approaches to medical ethics through videos, discussions, physician lectures, and self-reflection.

The focus of this class is to demonstrate some ethical scenarios that a physician faces. Each student must delve deeply into their own values and beliefs. Being willing to share those beliefs and have them challenged in regard to specific cases is expected. The goal is to be able to approach an ethical situation, not come to a "right" or "wrong" answer. This is not about the legal system but rather about medicine and interpersonal communication leading to problem-solving an ethical dilemma.

There will an emphasis on small group discussion based on video, identification of core issues, readings and hopefully, a standardized medical interview wherein your patient will engage you in an ethical situation.

There will some visiting physician lectures to demonstrate basic physiology, pathophysiology and anatomy, and approaches to death and dying.

Finally, as a medical educator, I will share thoughts on pre-medical education, medical education and utilize medical students as Teaching Assistants.

As a result of completing this course, I hope students will be willing to embrace and engage in their college education even if they decide not to pursue medicine. They should learn how to be self-reflective and identify their own values, potential "biases" and be able to think about ethical issues from a variety of perpectives.

Prerequisites: 1. Taken at least one biology course 2. Be willing to speak out both virtually and "in-person" in a discussion (assessments will largely depend on participation in these discussion-based assignmments) 3. Should be entering grade 11 or 12 and have expressed a sincere interest in medicine

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEME0905

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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