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Medical ethics education is integral to the mission of our division, and all faculty members are involved in our educational initiatives. We are responsible for teaching the medical ethics components of the Medicine, Patients and Society (MPS) courses, which are required for all students at Weill Cornell Medical College. Pablo Rodriguez del Pozo, M.D., J.D., Ph.D., represents the Division at the Doha, Qatar campus of Weill Cornell Medical College. The Medical Ethics Division is regularly represented by Dr. Fins at morning report to discuss ethical issues that arise on the Medicine Service. In addition, its research seminars are available to faculty, students and trainees.


Medical Ethics - a component of Medicine, Patients and Society II

A six-week survey course in medical ethics for second year medical students, it includes topics such as Medical Ethics in the 20th Century: A Historical Overview; Capacity, Competence, Informed Consent and Refusal; Clinical Pragmatism as a Method of Moral Problem-Solving for Medicine; Decisions at the End of Life: Issues in the Hospital; Ethics in Reproductive Medicine;  and The Medical Marketplace: Access and Managed Care and Ethics in Pediatrics. This course mobilizes approximately 25 faculty members and hospital staff and constitutes an ongoing in-service experience for tutors as well as students.

Course Director: Joseph J. Fins, M.D.
Core Faculty: Elizabeth Nilson, M.D., M.P.H.; Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, Ph.D., M.S.; Cathleen Acres, M.A., B.S.N.

Medicine, Patients and Society III

Also taught by the Division of Medical Ethics, this required third-year clerkship is designed to promote self-reflective practice and develop competencies in clinical ethics and end-of-life care. To develop their technical skills in pain and symptom management, students participate in palliative care rounds at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, attend case management problem solving seminars in palliative care, and make a site visit to observe hospice care.

Course Director: Joseph J. Fins, M.D., Professor of Public Health, Chief, Division of Medical Ethics
Core Faculty: Elizabeth Nilson, M.D., M.P.H.; Inmaculada de Melo-Martiín, Ph.D., M.S.; Cathleen Acres, M.A., B.S.N.; Victor Sidel, M.D.

Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar

Pablo Rodríguez del Pozo, M.D., J.D., Ph.D., represents the Division of Medical Ethics in Qatar, and in consultation with colleagues in New York, directs the Medical Ethics curriculum. Courses include Medical Ethics and Humanities, for second-year premedical students, and a course in palliative care (under development) for fouth-year medical students.

Medical Ethics Education in Qatar

Pablo Rodríguez del Pozo, M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Public Health, represents the Medical Ethics Division at the Doha, Qatar campus of Weill Cornell Medical College. He directs the entire Medical Ethics curriculum at that campus, for both medical and pre-medical students, using videoconferencing to be in close consultation with colleagues in New York. Dr. Rodríguez del Pozo and Dr. Fins co-authored the first publication from the medical college branch, "The Globalization of Education in Medical Ethics and Humanities: Evolving Pedagogy at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar" (Academic Medicine, Vol. 80, No. 2/February 2005), which discussed their experiences in implementing a Medical Ethics and Humanities course for premedical students. Drs. Rodríguez del Pozo and Fins and are also co-editors of a new section of Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, entitled "Spanish Bioethics".

Dr. Rodríguez del Pozo's innovative educational initiatives have included organizing and moderating debates on current controversial health topics. The participants have been second-year pre-medical students in the Medical Ethics and the Humanities course. In 2006, the students argued for and against the motion: "This House believes that Terry Schiavo had the right to die by having her feeding tube removed". The topic for the second debate, held in February 2007, was whether or not medical drugs that enhance mood and cognition should be made available over the counter. Dr. Rodríguez del Pozo has vigorously promoted these debates as an important way to foster academic and civic values.

Currently, a new course in palliative care for fourth-year medical students is being developed.

A Revised Hippocratic Oath

At the request of Dean Antonio Gotto, Dr. Fins chaired a special committee of 18 faculty and two student leaders from both the New York City and Doha, Qatar campuses of Weill Cornell Medical College to craft an updated version of the Hippocratic Oath. The committee was composed of a diverse and distinguished group including Dean Gotto, Carol L. Storey-Johnson, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Education, Alvin I. Mushlin, M.D., Sc.M., Chairman of the Department of Public Health; Pablo Rodriguez del Pozo, M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Public Health - Qatar; Donna DiMichele, M.D., Associate Professor of Public Health, Oliver Fein, M.D., Professor of Clinical Public Health, and The Reverend Curtis Hart, M.Div., Lecturer in Public Health. The new oath was unveiled at Commencement ceremonies in June 2005.

The original Hippocratic Oath has been revised many times to reflect changes in medical practice. Historically, these revisions have been undertaken by individuals or professional associations. The new Weill Cornell Medicine oath is distinctive because it represents an institutional effort. New emphases in the revised oath address the doctor's responsibilities and duties to serve as advocate for their patients, champion social justice for the sick, and forge strong bonds throughout the healing process. It also fosters trust and respect within the profession by including a pledge to help sustain colleagues in their service to humanity. The committee worked to achieve a balance between archaic and modern forms of expression and also replaced phrases that have a religious connotation with more ecumenical expressions.

The revised oath ends on a more positive note than the classical version, which threatens retribution for any doctor who transgressed the oath and swore falsely. Revised, it reads: "I now turn to my calling, promising to preserve its finest traditions, with the reward of a long experience in the joy of healing." It concludes: "I make this vow freely and upon my honor," again underscoring personal responsibility as a guidepost in one's profession.

Read the full press release here.

The oath has also been printed on the back of t-shirts being sold at the Weill Cornell Medical College bookstore.

Contact Information

Medical Ethics

Joseph J. Fins, M.D., Chief

Joan Walker, Administrative Director
435 E. 70th St., 4J
Tel: (212) 746-1126 
Fax: (212) 746-8738

Kristen Brady, Divisional Administrator
1320 York Avenue, Room HT-615
Tel: (212) 746-9168
Fax: (212) 746-8793

Kerrine Simone Carter, Administrative Assistant
435 E. 70th St., 4J
Tel: (212) 746-4246
Fax: (212) 746-8738

Division Events

Division News

Clinical Trials

Related Internal Links

PDF icon Medical Ethics Seminar Schedule

Related External Links

Department of Healthcare Policy and Research
CTSC Research Ethics Core