Senior nursing major Mathew Oldiges spent the summer at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, as a clinical ethics intern. In addition to shadowing physicians and attending institutional review board hearings, he participated in lectures that explored different ethical frameworks and conducted independent research. Mathew is pursuing a BDP certificate in Ethics & Leadership with a concentration in Ethics of Health Care.
“I am now able to more objectively approach difficult moral and ethical decisions appropriately. My research on the limitations of cultural knowledge has sparked new interests in me.“
What kind of work did you do this summer at MD Anderson?
As a clinical ethics intern at MD Anderson Cancer Center, I logged over 120 clinical hours in rounds and institutional review boards hearings, and shadowed physicians. I also researched the limitations of cultural knowledge within health care. On a weekly basis, I read many articles for classes on controversial ethical subjects. Best of all, I was granted the ultimate privilege of working beside brilliantly inspirational medical ethicists in the number one cancer hospital in the world.
Describe the work that you did as an intern. What type of skills did you gain?
I learned many new ethical frameworks, as well as how to apply them to modern dilemmas in health care settings. I learned about the roles of the hospital by attending interdisciplinary team meetings and shadowing many different members of the health care team. I am now able to more objectively approach difficult moral and ethical decisions appropriately. My research on the limitations of cultural knowledge has sparked new interests.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience internship?
Philosophy explores human behavior and the way we see the world. By studying philosophy, I could not help but question my own perspectives. The way I see the world is different now, more evolved. The connections I made were also incredible. Even though the internship is over, I am still working on a research paper with MD Anderson on how to gain institutional support. There is a good chance this research will be published.
What did you learn through this experience about ethics in the health care industry?
Everything is gray! Every human being is unique. Every situation leading up to illness in each patient’s life is different. Therefore, each medical case is equally unique. Recognizing this is paramount to practicing ethical, patient-centered care. I also learned that most ethical dilemmas can be worked out through non-judgmental, open conversations and by exploring expectations between the parties at conflict.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
The mentors have inspired me immensely. I will still be a nurse. However, I will be critically involved in the ethics teams in hospitals. I am now interested in earning a doctoral degree, whereas prior to the program I was only planning to pursue a master’s degree.
Mathew’s profile was included in the September issue of The Bridge. Read more articles from The Bridge.