September 05, 2006

Law, medical students to explore ethical issues

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Future physicians and attorneys will explore critical ethical issues they will soon face on Saturday, Sept. 9, during Professional Responsibility Day at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

About 225 first-year students in the law and medical schools, and students in the MEDPREP program, participate in the three-hour seminar that begins at 9 a.m. at the SIU School of Law's Hiram H. Lesar Law Building. MEDPREP helps students prepare for careers in medicine, dentistry or other health-related fields.

"The theory behind having it early in the first year is that they begin to think from the very beginning of their professional education about the kinds of ethical issues they will be confronted with," said law professor W. Eugene Basanta, the Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law. "They will need to recognize those issues and need to address those issues in their day-to-day practice."


Media Advisory

The formal program runs from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the law school. Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the event. A good time to interview students and facilitators is at noon. For more information or to make other arrangements, contact professor W. Eugene Basanta at 618/453-8748.


This the 11th year for the program, which is part of the law school's nationally recognized Professional Development Workshop Series. Faculty from the law school, SIU School of Medicine and outside personnel will serve as facilitators.

Students break into smaller groups of 15 students each with up to three facilitators to discuss issues.

Marshall B. Kapp, the law school's Garwin Distinguished Professor of Law and Medicine; J. Kevin Dorsey, dean and provost of the medical school; Sharon K. Hull, research associate professor and interim chair of the medical school's Department of Medical Humanities; and Basanta will deliver the opening remarks.

Attorneys and doctors in many ways can face similar kinds of ethical and professional challenges as they treat patients and represent clients, Basanta said.

"There is a lot to learn from hearing different perspectives from other professionals," Basanta said. "Too often, legal and medical professionals are viewed as adversaries rather than as professional colleagues who have common kinds of issues that they have to confront, and that they can learn from each other.

"There is a good deal that is more positive in the relationship between lawyers and doctors than sometimes is the popular image," Basanta said.

Law school Dean Peter C. Alexander echoed those sentiments.

"It is important for law students, as well as medical students, to understand that as professional people they share similar responsibilities and must uphold similar principles," he said.

Achieving excellence in graduate and professional programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.