September 10, 2009

Law, medical students to explore ethical issues

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The 14th annual Professional Responsibility Day is Saturday, Sept. 12, at the SIU School of Law at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The event introduces first-year students in the law school, the SIU School of Medicine and SIUC’s MEDPREP program to critical and ethical issues they will likely encounter during their professional careers.

About 250 first-year students will participate this year. MEDPREP helps eligible students prepare for careers in medicine, dentistry or other health-related fields.

The seminar begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Hiram H. Lesar Law School Building.

Ross Silverman, professor and chair of the Department of Medical Humanities in the medical school, Dr. Kevin Dorsey, dean and provost of the medical school, interim law school Dean Frank G. Houdek, and W. Eugene Basanta, the Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law, will deliver opening remarks.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover some of the small group discussions that start at 10:15 a.m. in various classrooms, but they should be unobtrusive. Students and faculty will be available for interviews at noon. For more information, contact Alicia Ruiz, the law school’s director of communication and outreach, at 618/453-8700.

Students then break into smaller groups for further discussions. The scenarios they discuss, with the help of law school and medical school faculty, focus on a variety of topics, including a patient’s rights, confidentiality, and how physicians and attorneys respond to patients or clients when there are mistakes, Basanta said.

“These are all important ongoing topics of discussion,” Basanta said.

Students do not receive instructions on the correct answers. The exercises are for them to recognize and talk about their own views on these issues as a beginning professional student “when their choice might adversely affect other people,” Basanta said.

“It’s not so much to teach them right answers but to get them to talk and think about the questions they need to ask and think through for themselves,” he said.

The program is part of the law school’s nationally recognized Professional Development Workshop Series. It is “reflective in both law schools and medical schools over the last 20 years of a re-emergence of professionalism as a core concern in professional education,” Basanta said.