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Arthur Derse

Arthur R. Derse, MD, JD, FACEP

Director, Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities; Julia and David Uihlein Chair in Medical Humanities, and Professor of Bioethics and Emergency Medicine

Locations

  • Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities

Contact Information

Education

JD, University of Wisconsin School of Law, 1987
Emergency Medicine Residency, Medical College of Wisconsin, 1983
MD, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 1980
BA, University of Notre Dame, 1976

Biography

Arthur R. Derse, MD, JD, is the Director of the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, Julia and David Uihlein Chair in Medical Humanities, and Professor of Bioethics and Emergency Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He is faculty in the Kern Institute’s Philosophies of Medical Education Transformation Laboratory. He is the Founding Director of the MCW Medical Humanities Program. He is a fellow of the Hastings Center bioethics research institute, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member of the American Law Institute.

“It is my privilege to lead the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities faculty and staff in the Institute who are dedicated to professionalism and excellence in scholarship, research, education and ethics consultation.”

Dr. Derse is a member and past chair of the Ethics Committee of the American College of Emergency Physicians. He is a member of the administrative board of the Council of Faculty and Academic Societies of the Association of American Medical Colleges and chair of its Advocacy Committee. He serves as emergency medicine advisor to the national Physicians Orders on Life Sustaining Treatment Task Force. He is a member of the Wisconsin State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee and served on its Ethics and Vaccine Distribution Subcommittees.

He serves as an advisor from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging to the Uniform Law Commission’s Uniform Determination of Death Act Drafting Committee, and serves as an observer from the American College of Emergency Physicians to the Uniform Law Commission’s Uniform Health Care Decisions Act Drafting Committee.

Dr. Derse is past president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and served as chair of the National Ethics Committee of the Veterans Health Administration for 10 years. He served on the boards of the American Society for Law, Medicine, and Ethics, and the Association of Bioethics Program Directors. He served as Senior Consultant for Academic Affairs at the American Medical Association’s Institute for Ethics, and as a member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging. He served as a member of the Ethics and Professionalism Committee of the Federation of State Medical Boards.

He is senior advisor to the Froedtert Hospital Ethics Committee (the adult university hospital of the Medical College of Wisconsin). He served as chair of the ethics committee for 23 years and supervisor of ethics consultation. He served as an ethics consultant at the hospital for 33 years. He also served as co-chair of the ethics advisory committee and ethics consultant at the Milwaukee Veterans Administration Hospital for 16 years and has served as an ethics committee member and ethics consultation team member at Children's Wisconsin since 1993.

His educational activities include oversight of MCW's medical ethics curriculum and direction of graduate school courses encompassing law and bioethics, and ethics consultation. He co-directs MCW’s Bioethics Scholarly Pathway. He also directs two of the medical school's medical humanities elective courses. He directed the school's former second year required Medical Ethics and Palliative Medicine course for 15 years.

His publication and research have focused on emergency medicine and ethics, law and bioethics, informed consent, end-of-life decision making, confidentiality and the doctor-patient relationship. He is co-author of the Code of Ethics of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and Practical Ethics for Students, Interns and Residents: A Short Reference Manual, 4th Edition. He is also co-author of the Education on Palliative and End of Life Care (EPEC) Curriculum, as well as the EPEC curriculum designed for emergency physicians (EPEC-EM) and serves as a member of their advisory boards and national faculty. He has over 150 publications, including articles in the peer-reviewed literature, invited journal publications, editorials, book chapters, project publications, and books, and has given over 250 national and international presentations.

Dr. Derse serves on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Bioethics, the Journal of Clinical Ethics, and the Journal of Ethics. He is the founder and moderator of the MCW Bioethics Discussion Forum, a nationally recognized academic online discussion group.

He has been interviewed by The New York Times, NBC’s Dateline, NPR’s Morning Edition, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Atlantic Magazine, Fox News, MSNBC, Fox Business News, Sirius-XM Radio, The Christian Science Monitor, The Scientist, JAMA, BMJ, American Medical News, Family Practice News, ASCO Connection, Wired News, Hippocrates Magazine, New York Public Radio (WNYC-FM), The Wisconsin State Journal, Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR), the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee NPR (WUWM-FM) and Milwaukee PBS.

Honors and Awards

Member, American Law Institute, 2022
Distinguished Service Award, Medical College of Wisconsin, 2021
Fellow, Hastings Center bioethics research institute, 2019
American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation John A. Benson, MD Professionalism Article Award, 2018
Convocation Address, Medical College of Wisconsin, 2014
American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Certificate of Excellence for Exemplary Leadership, Service, and Dedication, 2014
Medical College of Wisconsin Society of Teaching Scholars, 2007
American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Distinguished Service Award 2007
Letter of Commendation for Service, Undersecretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration, 2005
Gold Foundation Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, 2005
11-time recipient, Medical College of Wisconsin Outstanding Teacher, Medical School/Graduate School
Fellow, American College of Emergency Physicians, 1988

Research Experience

  • Advance Directives
  • Advisory Committees
  • Bioethical Issues
  • Bioethics
  • Codes of Ethics
  • Commitment of Mentally Ill
  • Curriculum
  • Defensive Medicine
  • Disaster Medicine
  • Disasters
  • Double Effect Principle
  • Education, Graduate

Clinical Expertise

  • Clinical Ethics Consultation
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Humanities
  • Law

Leadership Positions

  • Administrative Board Member, AAMC Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (CFAS)
  • Board Member and Secretary, Association of Bioethics Program Directors
  • Chair, Advocacy Committee, AAMC Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (CFAS)
  • Director, MCW Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities
  • Director, MCW Medical Humanities Program
  • Former Board Member, American Society for Law, Medicine and Ethics
  • Former Chair, Veterans Health Affairs National Ethics Committee
  • Member and Former Chair, Ethics Committee, American College of Emergency Physicians
  • Past President, American Society for Bioethics and Humanities

Publications