Since 2009, the Campus-Wide Ethics Program has achieved many accomplishments.
In cooperation with the Quality Enhancement Plan of UTHealth, also coordinated by the McGovern Center, a one-day conference on “Social Justice and the Health Professions: Ethical and Experiential Issues” was held on June 2, 2011. This conference featured panels on topics like mental health and social justice, and ethics and overlooked experiences with presenters and respondents from all six schools of UTHealth and other institutions, including Rice University and the University of Kansas.
Two years later, a second conference was held from June 2-3, 2013. The topic was “Ethics as the Core of the Curriculum: The Next Innovation in Interprofessional Education” and included guest speakers Margaret Edson, Playwright and author of Wit; Pedro “Joe” Greer, MD, and Marin Gillis, PhD, from Florida International University; Mark Earnest, MD, PhD, and Tess Jones, PhD, from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus; and Sarah Shannon, RN, PhD, and Karen McDonough, MD, from the University of Washington.
In 2012, a mini-grant program was established to provide funding to proposals with interprofessional ethics focus. That year, four proposals were awarded funding that totaled $30,000. A year later, in 2013, five proposals received funding for interprofessional initiatives.
Grant recipients of the study, “Ethical Dilemma in Surgical Interventions for Fragility Hip Fractures in Older Dementia Patients” were accepted to present a poster at the 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society. This marks the first of several expected presentations stemming from this research.
Just as UTHealth students meet The Brewsters, the Campus-Wide Ethics Program offered faculty an opportunity to do the same through a four-part faculty development seminar in Spring 2014. Faculty members from different disciplines came together to read and discuss the issues of clinical ethics, research ethics, and professionalism faced by the Brewster family.
Through this program, several required ethics courses were created or enhanced at UTHealth. The School of Public Health offered Ethics in Public Health to master’s and doctoral students, Ethical Dimensions of the Biomedical Sciences remains a required course at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and Introduction to Ethics and Professionalism was required during students’ second year at McGovern Medical School and was redesigned to include Team-Based Learning alongside School of Dentistry students.
Several interprofessional opportunities also were created via various blue book electives, featuring lectures on a range of subjects. Art of Observation, Ethics: Historical Lessons, and Suffering: Pathographies of Mental Illness were three such courses co-sponsored by the McGovern Center that brought together students of nursing, dentistry, medicine, and public health. A final interprofessional educational activity resulted from the creation of The Brewsters: An Interactive Adventure in Health Professional Ethics in the Health Professions. Coauthored by Jeffrey Spike, PhD, Thomas Cole, PhD, and Richard Buday, FAIA, the book follows a choose-your-own-adventure format wherein students make decisions about ethical issues and proceed to consequences and new scenarios. The story follows the fictional Brewsters family as they encounter healthcare providers from different professions. Since Fall 2011, this activity has been integrated within all six schools and has reached more than 10,000 students.