Several weeks ago, I traveled with a fellow student to the University of Notre Dame. There, we attended an annual medical ethics conference put on by Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture. We became aware of this conference through one of our professors in the Theology Department, who knew that we were interested in both Medicine and Ethics. Generously, the University of Scranton and the University of Notre Dame covered the costs of our travel and accommodations for the conference!
The conference was geared toward medical professionals, so we, as undergraduates, were in the minority. Besides some wonderful free food, we also were treated to a variety of insightful talks given by doctors and bioethicists. We heard a presentation about the ethics of talking about financial issues with patients. We learned about CRISPR gene editing and the implications of this new and easy-to-use technology. We were presented with case studies that revealed how trust can breakdown in patient-doctor relationships. The keynote presentation, my personal favorite, explored the philosophical currents that lead to the revolution in women’s reproductive medicine.
After each presentation, the conference attendees were split into smaller groups and had the opportunity to discuss what they had heard with each other. This was by far the most impactful part of the conference for me. I had the privilege of speaking with some top-notch bioethicists and doctors who dealt with ethical issues in their practices every day. It was inspiring to see how committed these people were to upholding their ethical standards. Conversing with them was also a mentoring experience, as many of them were interested in my own career aspirations and plan of studies. Overall I am grateful for the opportunity I had to attend this conference, and I hope to be involved with the Center in the future.
As a funny side note: I recently received a letter in the mail from Notre Dame informing me that I had received Continuing Medical Education credits from the conference. I’ll have to save those for the future!