How can I deal with the ethical aspects of working in medicine? Please help

<p>Hey everyone,</p>

<p>For a long time, I have been set on being a surgeon. Its something that I'm passionate about and am willing to commit to. However, I am not sure if I can deal with the ethical issues going on in medicine right now. Im against embryonic stem cell research, against (casual) abortions, unsure about animal testing (im already a vegetarian), and the list goes on. Do you think there is a place for me in the medical field, or will I be too morally overwhelmed to do my job? </p>

<p>By the way, I have hopes of working in trauma (or some other high-risk/intense specialty)</p>

<p>Id appreciate any input, thanks.</p>

<p>Depending on what area of surgery you go in you won't be dealing with any of those issues anyway. If you were to deal with any of them for a job, it would only be one of them. You will not run across things like embryonic stem cells and animal testing, as they are fields in research. As a doctor working in trauma, you will eat, sleep, breathe trauma, ethics issues aren't a part of your job nor is dealing with them.</p>

<p>That makes me feel so much better (:</p>

<p>I think you need to note that 'ethics' and 'morals' are two different things. Stem cell research, abortions, animal testing - these are all ethical acts by modern medical ethics standards. They may or may not fit in with moral frameworks individuals possess. </p>

<p>Regardless of your views on these issues, you will learn about them, and you will meet people's who's entire lives/careers have been dedicated to these tasks. </p>

<p>If your views on these subjects are strong enough that you will be unable to deal with them being parts of your education and training then you will have problems. </p>

<p>I think your animal testing concerns are potentially the most perplexing. Almost all medications today are developed with at least some portion of animal testing. And our understanding of a great many diseases is increasing due animal models - either through genetic manipulation or other methods. If your views are strong enough that this bothers you...well you're going to have do some very significant self reflection to figure out what that means and what you're comfortable with. Certainly animal testing is a reality of the medical establishment and our ability to take care of patients depends on it.</p>

<p>I would also point out that are restrictions on stem cell research, in part, increases our need for animal testing.</p>

<p>As an already employed physician, you wouldn't necessarily know how a certain medication was tested for stability/safety/side effects unless you chose to dive into the specific med and followed its trails back to its origins.</p>

<p>Sorry, I initially only skimmed through your post. Through your education is a different story yes, but his question was specific for the actual job, not the education and training.</p>

<p>Its not that I have a problem learning about these issues...I dont think ignorance will solve anything. </p>

<p>My question was more of whether or not I'd have to come in close contact with these issues. Like...am I going to have to observe a bunny in a cage? Or work with embryos? Ever? Because those are things that I would have a very hard time forcing myself to do.</p>

<p>Direct contact can be avoided.</p>

<p>I think there will be more pressing moral and ethical dilemmas you will be faced with..</p>

<p>Like what?</p>

<p>Turning people away over payment problems. Choosing what is right for the coma patient. Deciding whether or not a kidney donor should know that not only was he not a match, his son isn't his son.</p>

<p>Those seem like situations I am more prepared to deal with than the ones I listed earlier...so that is good to know. Thanks.</p>

<p>"Like what? "</p>

<p>Drug reps. Direct to consumer advertising. Bad research. Instructors and medical schools with vested interests. "Free" pizza when you attend a talk. Free pens. Free drug samples or "vouchers" to give your patients for "new. improved, patented medications". giving medical advice to family, friends, and forums. Drug companies underwriting for your professional organizations and continuing education. Limitations in coverage that limit choices. How to involve parents when you know about their kids pregnancy, STD's, or substance use.</p>

<p>Figuring out who your "client" is, and who should be allowed to influence your decisions, consciously, or sub consciously. </p>

<p>Is it your "boss" if you are an employed doc? Is it the insurance company if they are paying the bills? The government, if its medicare or medical? The parent if you are treating a child? The step parent/ The school? The workplace?</p>

<p>"Those seem like situations I am more prepared to deal with"</p>

<p>Good, then you are WAY ahead of most of us in practice.</p>

<p>If you get more bent out of shape because you are forced to give a patient information about legal abortions (which, btw, you must even if you don't do them) than you do when you are forced to turn away an illegal immigrant parent who has a child in their arms that can barely breath and is slowly become growth and mentally retarded due to the fact that they can not afford the treatment and devices needed and they aren't covered under insurance.... A parent who left his entire family and his pharmacy job behind in South Asia to work in the shadows here in the US out of love of his child because at least here every time the child destabilizes the ER will resuscitate him... yeah....</p>

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As a doctor working in trauma, you will eat, sleep, breathe trauma, ethics issues aren't a part of your job nor is dealing with them

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</p>

<p>As a trauma surgeon, I can tell you that trauma has the most ethics of any field. You deal with brain dead patients or patients that have little chance of survival every day. I "turn off" the ventilator on a patient almost every week. Many times there are no family members around.</p>

<p>I also deal with saving a mother by aborting a fetus. I have to do that about once a year.</p>

<p>So, no stem cell problems (yet stem cells may help your paralyzed 5 year old walk again...) but many others.</p>

<p>I would look at a field such as radiology</p>