Medical School

Bioethics and Medical Humanities Pathway

The Bioethics & Medical Humanities Pathway will enable medical students to integrate the knowledge and tools of bioethics and medical humanities into their careers as physicians.

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About the Pathway
The Bioethics & Medical Humanities Pathway will enable students to integrate the knowledge and tools of bioethics and medical humanities into their healthcare careers.  This will be achieved through a variety of activities that encompass knowledge of the bioethics scholarly literature through discussion and application of analytic frameworks to clinical ethics, research ethics and ethics teaching. Additionally, the knowledge and skills of bioethics and medical humanities will enable students to strengthen their professionalism, improve communication, preserve empathy and support reflective practice.  

The pathway activities will provide medical students the opportunity to develop their ethics skills in a variety of areas, including but not limited to clinical ethics consultation, research ethics, and participation and leadership in institutional ethics committees.
Pathway Directors

Cynthiane J. Morgenweck, MD, MA
Associate Professor of Bioethics and Medical Directors

Arthur Derse, MD, JD
Director, Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities
Julia and David Uihlein Chair in Medical Humanities
Professor of Bioethics and Emergency Medicine

Goals and Competencies

Goal: 

To provide future physicians with the knowledge and skills of bioethics and medical humanities to support and enhance their practice of medicine through emerging ethical expertise, professionalism, communication, empathy and reflection.  

Pathway Competencies and Objectives:

Knowledge for Practice

  • Describe the foundations of ethical theories used to analyze biomedical ethical issues 
  • Explain the principles of bioethics and their application, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy and justice 
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the use of bioethics frameworks to analyze clinical cases, including medical indications, patient preference, quality of life and contextual features 
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the application of bioethics principles to individual scholarly projects 
  • Recount the history of research ethics and delineate the role of IRBs in human subject research 
  • Analyze bioethical issues in patient care, professional interactions and societal policy, including, Informed Consent and Refusal, Confidentiality and Privacy, Allocation of Health Care Resources and Organ Transplantation, End of Life Care, Reproductive and Genetic Ethics, Pediatric and Adolescent Ethics, Ethical Issues selected specialty care areas
  • Describe medical humanities techniques including the use of narrative medicine, and articulate how these methods strengthen professionalism, improve communication, preserve empathy and support reflective practice 

Interpersonal Communication:

  • Explain how the Pathway has made an impact on the student’s approach to patient care and research projects
  • Utilize bioethics and medical humanities techniques to improve communication and demonstrate empathy
Examples of Topics and Activities

Examples of Core Session Topics:

  • Bioethics: Principles; Methods of Case Analysis
  • History of Medical Ethics 
  • Ethics Committees and Ethics Consultation 
  • Research Ethics and Research Regulations 
  • Law and Bioethics 
  • Specialty Ethics: Pediatrics, Ob/Gyn, Surgery, Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine 
  • Ethical issues in Genomic/Personalized Medicine 
  • Ethical patient care in times of disaster/pandemic 
  • Culture, Profession, and the Virtues of Medicine  

Examples of Non-core Activities:

  • Bioethics & Medical Humanities Monthly Grand Rounds and special lectures
  • Student/Resident led reflective writing workshops focusing on ethical issues
  • Research Review Panel (student-led)
  • M1 Healer’s Art Academic Enrichment Elective
  • Bioethics Interest Group
  • Auscult (MCW literary journal)
  • Medical Humanities Interest Group 
  • Physicians for the Arts
  • MCW Common Read
  • Memory Art Project (creating art with elders)
  • Med Moth (storytelling)
  • Visual Thinking Strategies (viewing and reflecting on art works) sessions
  • Medical Improvisation (Improv) sessions
  • Graphic Medicine sessions
  • Film Series 
Additional Resources and Information