MedStar Washington Hospital Center, John J. Lynch, MD Center for Ethics, Washington, DC
I spent this summer working as an intern for the John J. Lynch, MD Center for Ethics at the Washington Hospital Center—a major level I trauma center in Washington, DC, that serves several functions in the hospital. Primarily, the staff run the ethics consult service, which assists providers, patients, families, and anyone involved in patient care with making the complex ethical decisions that are often required in medical care. The Center performs a remarkable 400 consults a year, and runs several hospital committees, including the Advanced Heart Failure Selection committee which determines patient transplant viability. Additionally, the Center publishes the Journal of Hospital Ethics—a major publication in the MedStar system—and provides health policy and ethics education for the hospital.
As an intern with the Center, I was able to sit in on committee meetings, including the Advanced Heart Failure Selection consult review meetings, as well as journal club readings and discussions. I also took part in several educational seminars focused on the principles and processes in biomedical ethical decisions, with a particular focus on the heightened challenges imposed by Covid-19. I also pursued independent projects as part of the internship. I worked on several literature reviews, gathering research on, for instance, the use and role of specific language and terminology in clinical ethics. Most significantly, I worked on a report that I presented to the ethics committee which centered on my own research and argument, that contemporary relational ethics are a framework better suited to clinical ethics than traditional ethical theories.
My experience at the Lynch Center this summer had a significant impact on my academic and career goals. I came into the program with an interest in bioethics, and to gain real exposure to the field was invaluable in my understanding of what clinical ethics looks like in practice. Through my daily discussions with my mentor, I had a great opportunity to dig into fascinating ethical theory, and I affirmed my interest in pursuing a philosophy major. Further, I was able to gain a meaningful insight into the exciting intersection between medicine and philosophy. Seeing this in action through the Center’s consult work helped confirm my interest in medicine. Moreover, I now hope my future studies and career in medicine involve work in medical humanities and clinical bioethics.
To close, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the staff at the John J. Lynch, MD Center for Ethics for their wonderful mentorship, and to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for facilitating my participation at the Center. Thank you!