Since Fall 2011, entering students of UTHealth have learned about ethics and professionalism through the experiences of the Brewsters. The Brewsters are a fictional family featured in the book The Brewsters: An Active Learning Experience in Health Professional Ethics authored by Jeffrey Spike, PhD, Thomas Cole, PhD, and Richard Buday, FAIA. So far, the activity has reached more than 15,000 students.
Students follow the family’s interactions with healthcare students and physicians, dentists, nurses, researchers, and other professionals in this innovative, choose-your-own-adventure novel. The novel unfolds in three acts: 1) Professionalism, 2) Clinical Ethics, and 3) Research Ethics. Students choose a character for each act and make decisions along the way. At the conclusion of each act, instructional materials are provided.
At UTHealth, The Brewsters has been part of various curricula of the schools of UTHealth Houston.
Students are assessed using pre and posttests to evaluate their change in knowledge about ethics and professionalism. Research has been conducted, presented at conferences, and published. In February 2012, The Brewsters earned first place in “Innovations in Health Science Education”, an honor awarded by The University of Texas System.