University of Chicago professor to lecture on medical ethics


    Lindsey Busker
    Contributing Writer

    Dr. Farr Curlin, MD, of the University of Chicago will be giving a lecture over religious, theological and philosophical implications associated with being a physician in the medical field Friday, April 20.

    This will be an important discussion regarding religion in the practice of medicine. It will investigate whether it is a professional commitment or a personal imposition to be spiritual while practicing medicine. The habit for doctors in the American hospital today is to keep God out of the room and rely solely on science when dealing with patients. Curlin will be addressing this important ethical issue facing hospitals, and more importantly,  patients who might be facing terminal illness.

    Curlin is a nationally recognized speaker and conference organizer on issues of religious commitment and conscience in the practice of medicine. As founding co-director of the Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago, Curlin is working with colleagues from the Pritzker School of Medicine and the University of Chicago Divinity School to foster scholarship and public discourse regarding the intersections of religion with the practice of medicine. Curlin is also a hospice and palliative-care physician, researcher and medical ethicist who works through ethical dilemmas with patients.  His unique stance in working in the medical field while showing his work as an ethicist proves how he addresses questions of physicians’ religious commitments and how they should shape their clinical practices in today’s society.

    Recent controversies about physicians and pharmacists who refuse to provide abortifacients or  contraceptives have stirred a debate in the field and among the public about what sort of obligations physicians have when patients request legal but controversial interventions.

    Curlin will first present data on what U.S. physicians think about these issues, from a study he and his colleagues conducted a few years ago.  Then, with these descriptive findings as a backdrop, he will make an argument and propose what he thinks is the right way to think about conscientious refusals and the place of the physician’s conscience in the practice of medicine.

    Members of the faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the University of Dallas will be hosting this lecture, which will be a great opportunity for future medical students or anyone at UD who is thinking about going into the medical field after college. Whether students want to become physicians, nurse practitioners or neurologists, this talk will allow those entering the medical field to obtain a grasp of the ethical issues facing doctors in our world today.

    The lecture by Curlin will also initiate collaboration between UD and the UT Southwestern Medical Center in addressing issues of ethics and morality in the practice of medicine.

    “It is very important to discuss conscience in connection with the practice of medicine,” University of Dallas associate professor of theology Dr. William Brownsberger said. “This lecture is a start to a conversation about these and other issues, and it brings to the table different, valuable perspectives.”

    With the new nursing program being offered here at UD, UT Southwestern has the opportunity to initiate new collaboration with UD. Students, faculty and all interested are invited and encouraged to attend this lecture. There will also be refreshments afterwards and a brief discussion time to ask Curlin further questions.


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