Students train to become physician-ethicists
“I knew as a junior in college that I wanted to pursue a PhD in addition to MD training,” says Nathaniel Brown, “but it wasn’t until my first year of med school that I was able to immerse myself in ethics coursework. Once I did I knew I wanted the PhD to be in health care ethics.”
There are two current MD/PhD students, Nathaniel and Anji Wall. Anji and Nathaniel both applied to medical school knowing they were interested in getting a PhD, but didn’t realize that studying ethics was an option.
The MD/PhD is one of two dual-degree programs offered by the Department. The curriculum lasts a total of seven years, after which successful students will have earned both the medical doctorate and doctor of philosophy in health care ethics degrees. At Saint Louis University this collaboration between the Medical School and the Department of Health Care Ethics represents the only non-science option open for this dual degree.
Both students expect to integrate their two degrees into productive careers in academia and research.
“My interest in academic medicine is definitely furthered by my ethics work,” says Anji. “I also think my clinical experience after the PhD will be more productive.” Nathaniel, who wants a career in both academic ethics and medicine, shared this view.
“I feel that I will be a much more aware clinician, and have a better understanding of what it means to be a good doctor to my patients,” he says. “The PhD in health care ethics will directly inform my clinical decision-making.”