Meet Kirsten Dodroe, a Biology and Public Health Science double major from Seattle, Washington. She is one of the Health Care Ethics Interns for the 2018-2019 academic year. This program grants SCU students the opportunities to become involved with different sectors of local hospitals and hospices where they are introduced and educated about the ethical dilemmas encountered in the medical field.
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
- “I was born in Seattle where I developed a strong love for the outdoors. Since my mom is an artist, I grew up in the Seattle arts community, and grew to greatly appreciate art of all forms. In high school, I experienced the value of empowering women as passionate agents of social justice, scientific discovery and academic success. At SCU, I have served as a Community Facilitator in Swig Residence hall. Currently, I am a leader with SCU’s outdoors club, Into the Wild, and serve as their director of risk and safety, for which I do medical and environmental health consultations for outgoing trips. I am currently working on a team with engineers and public health majors to build an prosthetic electric hand for amputees in India.
How did you end up as a Biology and Public Health Major?
- “I started out wanting to go into bioengineering to be a prosthetics engineer, but I realized I wanted to work more hands-on with people and be engaged in direct patient contact. I always have really valued having a holistic education involving the humanities and STEM, so I found the combinations of biology and public health to be a great intersection. I really value Santa Clara’s emphasis on caring for the whole person and their value on cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural learning.
What made you interested in the ethical aspect of health care?
- “You make these big decisions and you want to consider the person beyond their biomedical conditions, and in order to do that, you need to understand their identities and make decisions that reflect their best interest as human beings and as patients. I think ethics comes in as a driving agent to work in the best interest of the patient while considering them holistically. This is meaningful because I care about patients outside of their patient status, and I recognize that every patient has a different measure of what makes a good life and I want to respect those ideas.”
How can you incorporate what you are experiencing now from this internship, into a bigger picture when out of college? What are you looking forward to putting back into the communities around you?
- “Going forward, I hope to pursue a career as a doctor. As a doctor, I want to work with marginalized populations and this has been affirmed by my experiences shadowing in the wound care clinic. In the wound care clinic, all of the medical professionals worked with the highest levels of passion and dignity regardless of their patients’ social and economic background. I hope to provide the same level of care and ethical dignity to my future patients. “
What are some of the opportunities this health care internship holds?
- “As a health care ethics intern, I shadow care providers of all levels. I have shadowed in the wound care clinic, where I shadowed doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and social workers. I am currently shadowing at a local hospital with a chaplain as we provide spiritual care to individuals in the last stages of their lives.”
How has this ethics internship helped prepare you for what is to come in the near future?
- “The honor to be engaged in patient care is such a unique experience to have as an undergraduate. SCU’s partnership with these hospitals gives ethics interns an early view into what it means to be a care provider. This can provide students with experiences that are unexpected and help them further discern whether or not the long path into the medical profession is truly their calling. I also love the course component in which all of the ethics interns discuss clinical ethics studies to use as a framework for their shadowing experiences.”
What is your favorite part of this experience?
- “I love developing relationships with patients because some of the patients I see over multiple visits in the care setting, I don’t have as defined of a role as doctor, so I am able to establish a relationship with them and learn about who they are outside of their biomedical setting.”
How can students who might be interested get involved?
- “I recommend taking an ethics class, which is a pre-program requirement, and starting to view your life through different ethical frameworks you learn about because we encounter ethical issues every day of our lives and those ethics classes help you better understand how to act as a moral person. Come to the Markkula Center’s Ethics at Noon events. The Markkula Center brings in incredible lecturers to address present day ethical issues.”