Supporting Your Students in These Troubling Times

By Mark Kuczewski

University and college administrations have shown laudable leadership since the election in offering support to their students who feel under threat.  The strongest and most explicit statements have been in regard to undocumented students who have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  As the almost 800,000 persons of DACA status could be sent back “into the shadows” by the next president, numerous universities have made statements elaborating the steps they will take to protect these students and supply them with legal and social support services. [1,2]

Furthermore, many other students including persons of color and students from the Muslim and Jewish faith traditions also are encountering increased interpersonal hostility and they fear potential discriminatory policies such as the rumored “Muslim registry.”  As a result, many universities and colleges have done a variety of things to support them including offering discussion forums and creating “safe spaces” where students can express their concerns without debate.  But many educators wish to know what they personally can do to help.  Let me offer a few suggestions…
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Sentimentality in Medical Professionalism

By James Smith

As we navigate current and future health care transitions, I am skeptical that our conventional understanding of medical professionalism will assist us.  We have defined and organized medical professionalism into list of codes, behaviors, and collective “group-think” to serve as an aegis to transient threats to the central role of the medical practitioner in historic and contemporary healthcare.  Or at least physicians have.  Professionalism, as a movement in medicine, arguably had its inception in this country with the organization of the American Medical Association (AMA).  The AMA’s initial agenda included a proprietary defense to the threat of “irregular” practitioners—those from alternative medical education pathways.  The central role of physicians in modern healthcare has been eroded by payers, the government, and the healthcare systems in which physicians find employment.  Or so physicians think.  In response, physicians have conveniently deployed “professionalism” as a shield against these threats, and the general threat of commercialism in medicine.1 Furthermore, professionalism has been nuanced, expanded and rolled out as a discipline to be taught in medical education in order to protect and retain a collective identity, resistant to oversight or intrusive engagement from the outside.  The self-serving nature of the call for renewed professionalism and its incorporation into medical education is thinly veiled by the allure (and illusion) that it may actually be effective.  All we are accomplishing is the depersonalization the very nature of the relationship between healer and patient upon which we “profess” our social vocation…
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