Tuesday afternoon, 30 students headed to the Maize and Blue Auditorium to learn about how to solve ethical questions in medicine.

Tuesday afternoon, 30 students convened in the Student Activities Center to consider ethical questions in medicine.

Hosted by the Career Center, the long-running event was originally designed to introduce undergraduate pre-medical students to the ethical issues physicians face on a daily basis. The program also provides critical exposure to the kinds of ethical questions posed in medical school admission interviews.

The event featured a presentation by Emergency Medicine Prof. Andrew Barnosky, who has led the session since its inception. Barnosky stressed the importance of exposing students to medical ethics issues early on in their careers.

“(It) allows them to gain some degree of orientation and familiarity with issues that will become of growing importance as they advance in their careers,” he said.

During the presentation, Barnosky discussed ethical issues currently generating intense debate in the medical field, including physician-assisted suicide, abortion and stem cell research and physician profit motives.

Barnosky put these topics into the context of a medical school interview, explaining to students how best to approach controversial questions. He emphasized that there’s no one correct answer to these ethical dilemmas: No matter what you answer, he said, doctors need to convey to the interviewers that you will put patient interests above your own and promote fair treatment for all patients.

A Q&A session followed the talk.  Students in the audience volunteered to read controversial medical ethics questions aloud and share their likely response if they were faced with the situation in the field.

University alum Andrea Berkemeier, who said she is applying to medical school during the 2016 application cycle, said she found the event useful.

“I felt that the question-answer session at the end was very helpful,” Berkemeier said. “It was framed in a very positive, constructive way.”

Berkemeier added that, as a pre-med student, opportunities to work with these issues are hard to find.

“As a pre-medical student you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to address and think about these questions until you are preparing for medical school interviews,” she said.

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