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Bioethicists wear many different hats. They consult, teach and research ethical issues in health care. They help develop policy and create resources for patients, families and staff.
"Bioethicists help us navigate the complexities and chaos of patient care, including hearing the patient's voice," Joy Richards, UHN's Vice President Health Professions and Chief Nurse Executive, says in reflecting on the work done by the Bioethics Tam at UHN. "Bioethics provides a helpful lens to assist individuals within the circle of care to clarify the issues in complex cases, which are sometimes like untangling a giant hairball.
"This enables us to make better and more informed decision as well as to understand the reasoning behind them."
March 2 to 8 is National Health Ethics Week. To mark the event, UHN bioethicists will lead or co-lead sessions at a number of clinical and research teams' educational rounds at Toronto Rehab, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto Western and Toronto General.
UHN's Bioethicists are doctoral or masters-level trained health-care professionals. Graduate degrees and fellowships have become standard qualifications for bioethicists because "case consultation, teaching (such as informal in-services and formal presentations), policy development and review, research ethics, publishing, researching ethical issues in healthcare, and creating resources for patients, families and staff are cornerstones of our work," says Linda Wright, Director of Bioethics at UHN.
Dr. Edward Cole, UHN's Physician in Chief and renal transplant physician says that "Bioethics has been an essential partner in the success of organ transplantation at UHN."
The Bioethics Program is part of Scott McIntaggart's portfolio as Senior Clinical Vice-President. He notes that "the Bioethics program has proven to be a valuable resource to many front line practitioners, teams, patients and families who face complicated ethical issues each and every day.
"The work of Bioethics helps ensure patients are at the centre of our care, with the information and support they need to make free and informed decisions about treatment in view of what matters to them."
For more information about the Bioethics Program and its resources, please visit intranet.uhn.ca/departments/bioethics.