March 4, 2009 — During the past three summers, undergraduate students and recent graduates of the University of Virginia have participated in a unique interdisciplinary program that hones their leadership skills while teaching them to identify, understand and manage ethical conflicts in health care settings.
This summer, for the first time, the month-long program will admit future doctors, nurses, lawyers and business managers from outside U.Va. The application deadline is March 28 for the institute, which runs June 1-27.
Offered by U.Va.'s School of Medicine, the Intensive Scholars Institute in Leadership and Health Care Ethics is designed for individuals who intend to pursue careers in health care and are preparing to enter medical, law, nursing or graduate business school.
"We created this program to fill an educational void and believe there is nothing comparable offered today," said the institute's director, Patti Tereskerz, an associate professor in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities at the U.Va. School of Medicine.
"Given the recent ethical scandals on Wall Street and in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, we realized there is a great need to ensure that the next generation of medical, business and legal leaders has a strong foundation in ethics."
Feedback from past participants has consistently been favorable.
"The Intensive Scholars Institute offered a chance for me to delve deeper into what it means to be a doctor practicing in today's fragmented health care system," said Kathryn Ansell, a 2008 attendee who earned a B.A. in international relations and community health from Tufts University in 2007 and was a post-baccalaureate student at U.Va. last year. She is now working for AmeriCorps and plans to attend medical school in the fall.
Ansell has been accepted to nine medical schools and says her institute experience was helpful during admission interviews. "A lot of interviewers ask at least one ethics-related question," she said. "I felt very comfortable in articulating and discussing the different sides of ethical issues."
Fewer than 20 students will be selected for the institute. The curriculum includes public health, health care delivery systems, global health, research and patents, and the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries and health care professionalism.