Misericordia University Opens New Center for Bioethics

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DALLAS TOWNSHIP -- As new discoveries are made in the world of medicine every day, new questions about the morality of certain practices also come forward.

Now, Misericordia University in Luzerne County is opening its doors to talk about some of the controversial issues facing bioethics through its new Center for Human Dignity in Bioethics, Medicine, and Health.

Many of the Misericordia students at a wellness fair on Wednesday want to someday make it in the medical field. More than 40 percent of the entire campus is enrolled in a health-related major.

Administrators want them to graduate thinking of the patient first, which is the whole idea behind the university’s new center.

“Well, since I want to go into physical therapy, it's really important that I understand the ethics and I don't push those boundaries and I'm able to communicate well with my patients,” sophomore Emily McDevitt said.

Students, staff, and the public are encouraged at the center to talk about topics like cloning, eugenics, and medical practices in the Holocaust.

Center director Stacy Gallin said she hopes people learn there needs to be a balance between medical practices and patient care.

“Just because we have the technological ability to do something does not mean that it is ethical. That is something that I think too often gets overlooked,” Gallin said.

Senior Laura Baut hopes to eventually be a hospital administrator. She said having a background in bioethics could really make a difference in patients’ care while she’s on the job.

“There are a lot of problems with the way medicine is running today. A lot of the ethics are not getting enough attention as they should. I feel like patients deserve to have their ethics and their rights better represented,” Baut said.

Although Misericordia is a Catholic university, administrators said the center is going to be a place where students, staff, and the public can talk openly about challenging issues.

“A lot of what this program is doing is trying to bring us together so we can discuss those difficult issues in a civil way, look for ways for us to get to the real truth, and working toward what people need to do,” Misericordia University President Tom Botzman said.

The university is still building a formal curriculum for the new program but will be hosting meetings and conferences focused on bioethics soon.

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