By: François Pouliot, Ph.D., M.D., assistant professor and
clinical ethicist, Department of Critical Care
interns had the chance to discover clinical, research and/or organizational
ethics during the summer and to contribute to
activities and projects of the Section of
Integrated Ethics at MD Anderson
Cancer Center. One of them, Thomas Hoang, tells us more about his
experience in Clinical Ethics.
Tell us more about yourself
I attend The University of Texas
at Austin. I am pursuing a degree in biology and a minor in Spanish. After
receiving my undergraduate degree, I plan to embark on a career in medicine, and plan on applying to medical schools shortly
after I graduate. Health care has always been an interest of mine since I was
young, and it continues to be because I admire the profession of a physician.
Helping others and living a life of selflessness are two virtues that I've come
to believe will satisfy me in this lifetime, and both are intertwined
within the career of a doctor.
Why did you apply to a clinical internship?
Before I was appointed to this
intern position, I had a background in the hard sciences more than I did the
philosophical and ethical. We all know that health care is heavily
science-based, but there is that other dimension of ethics that is also
very important to patient care. My previous experiences in a clinical setting
were administrative and more focused on hospitality toward the families of the
patient. I applied to this internship to gain more exposure to patients, to see
other aspects of the clinical setting and to understand that health care
is not just science, but that there are many other spectrums of patient care
that are just as important as the surgeries, lab techniques, DNA assessments and epi tubes.
What is an average day like in this internship?
I have done a wide array of
things in the duration of this summer internship. My daily schedule for this
past summer consisted of researching and reading in an effort to gain a better understanding of
ethics, I attended rounds in the ICU, attended various lectures that address many
different aspects of health care, took a survey course in clinical ethics, and
researched for the design of a protocol to create an efficient screening
tool. The experience I've gained from doing these things has been extremely beneficial to me.
One event I remember very clearly was the bus
rounds hosted by Dr. Eduardo Bruera and his colleagues. This
was quite intriguing to me because it gave me exposure to terminal patients,
which was quite difficult to deal with at first. Overall, the kind of
exposures to patients I had this summer further developed my
interests in seeking a profession in health care.
What are the most important things you learned during this experience?
Aside from the clinical
experiences and research experiences, this internship let me dive into the
daily work life of the health profession. It allowed me to work with a diverse
group of professionals and colleagues that I have learned so much from. Learning about the
organizational structure of a large medical institution like the well-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center was a great experience. It defined for
me all of the types of people involved in health care. I also had great exposure to
research creation and protocol review. The most interesting was being able to
attend an Institutional Review Board (IRB) session and to see how they review protocols, as well as being involved in
creating one to potentially be submitted through the IRB.
What comes next?
I will continue to pursue
acceptance into a medical school. This experience has been a privilege and will be very beneficial to me as I continue with my education.
I have a year left of undergraduate study and, hopefully, this experience will
make me a more competent medical school candidate. I have learned during
my tenure here at MD Anderson that many health professionals are not aware of
clinical ethics and its importance especially to the patient. If my goals are achieved, I
will practice medicine with the utmost respect for patient autonomy,
beneficence, non-maleficence and justice.