Medical Ethics, Aging, and End of Life Care in the US
This course is part of the FOCUS cluster:
This FOCUS cluster pursues themes associated with Duke's strategic goal of using knowledge in the service of society. Increasingly in American higher education, both public and private institutions are underscoring their commitment to civic engagement in their curricular and co-curricular offerings. This stems from an increased recognition of the important role that our colleges and universities play in helping to solve real world problems in our local, national and international communities. Duke’s commitment to civic engagement has been widely recognized, and students in this cluster will become widely familiar with how Duke is engaged with it is many communities.
Students enrolling in the FOCUS cluster will learn about, critique, and explore the conceptual underpinnings of the pursuit of civic engagement and will get real life experiences through a service learning course that places students in a Durham public school and a leadership course that provides students the opportunity to develop and act on enterprising civic engagement ideas.
Study of medical ethics, policy, clinical, and personal issues in working with dying and bereaved people. Focuses on diverse populations in ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic status, education, sexual orientation, and more. Various models for providing care to the dying and bereaved. Visits from Hospice practitioners and doctors, field trips to funeral home and to Duke Hospice where the professor is a social worker. Works to be read/viewed may include “Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl,” “Wild,” Tolstoy’s “Death of Ivan Ilich,” policy articles on end of life care, and on physician assisted suicide. Focus Program students only. Instructor consent required. Service opportunities included.
"It's a very odd thing that we've decided as a culture that the one thing we know is going to happen to all of us, which is we're going to die someday, we don't talk about," says Professor Gheith. "And if we don't talk about it, it doesn't make it better. So how do we make it better?"
This course studies medical ethics, policy, clinical, and personal issues in working with dying and bereaved people. There is a focus on diverse populations in ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic status, education, sexual orientation, and more. Various models for providing care to the dying and bereaved will be explored.
The service-learning aspect of the course includes visits from Hospice practitioners and doctors, field trips to funeral home and to Duke Hospice where the professor is a social worker. There will be a mix of personal and academic reflection on these experiences.
"The thing that makes me happiest is when students come back from a placement and say things like 'Old people rock!', because they're not expecting it. Because we have very few places, except maybe with your grandparents, where students and elderly people interact. And this creates the space for that to happen," says Gheith.
Watch the course overview video:
About the Professor:
Jehanne Gheith is an Associate Professor of Russian Culture at Duke University and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for Duke Hospice, who has a private psychotherapy practice in Aging, Illness, and Wellness Transitions with a specialization in Pet Loss. At Duke, she led the International Comparative Studies Program for nine years, together with Marcy Litle, reshaping and building this interdisciplinary major. She has also chaired the Slavic Department. In both her academic and clinical work, Professor Gheith is interested in the intersection of narrative and loss; more recently, she has included the human-animal bond in this work. She regularly leads community conversations and workshops on making aging and crisis medical situations a richer experience than is often the case. In all of these areas, Professor Gheith's focus is on the intersection of story and loss and the richness that can come from exploring these connections in depth and in multiple dimensions. She is currently working on a book about the connections between her clinical work and her research in Russian literature. On September 30, she has organized and will present in an interactive workshop at Duke: "Poems, Prose, and Panels: the Work of the Humanities in End of Life Care." Gheith is committed to the modes of liberal arts and the humanities in the practical world. Read more here.
Great article in The Chronicle about Jehanne and her perspectives on end-of-life care.