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Medical student forum suggests policies to address tough health ethics issues

Medical student Gregory Henderson delivers the recommendations of a panel that examined ethical issues that arise in attempting to resuscitate extremely low birth-weight babies.

Photo/Jon Nalick

More than 100 medical students packed in to the Aresty Auditorium on March 6 for a unique presentation of health care policy reports by their classmates.

The first Keck School of Medicine Medical Student Health Policy Forum was the culmination of the senior seminar series in Humanities, Ethics, Art and the Law (HEAL).

HEAL is part of the four-year program in medical humanities, arts and ethics, and is focused on exploring ethical dilemmas and policy issues facing physicians.

At the beginning of the fall semester, seniors in the curriculum were broken into groups where they chose topics for their policy reports. Final reports, including a formal policy, were due Feb. 22.

The Health Policy Forum was made up of three groups who were chosen by a panel of experts in health policy as finalists to present their work to the entire Keck School community.

“Our students will soon be physicians who contribute to the crafting and implementation of health policy—on a small scale, for example solo practice, or on a national scale,” said Pamela Schaff, assistant dean for curriculum and director of the program in medical humanities, arts and ethics at the Keck School. “This yearlong course has provided them with some of the tools they will need to understand the ethical considerations required to develop high-quality and effective policies.”

Groups presented on diverse policy topics, including human stem cell line research, resuscitation of very low birth-weight babies, and equal access to emergency services and hospital viability.

Using Powerpoint presentations, they outlined the goals or purpose of their policies, provided background information and stated the main actions of the policies.

Based on the oral presentations, the group who presented on resuscitation of very low birth-weight babies was designated by the expert panel as winner of the Ehrenreich Award in Health Policy Ethics. The students will receive a cash prize and be recognized in the Senior Award Ceremony at graduation this spring.

“We’re very proud of the policies they have developed, and commend the winning group on their policy paper and presentation on the resuscitation of very low birth-weight babies,” said Schaff.

Medical student forum suggests policies to address tough health ethics issues

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