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Paige Penrod, '10

Medical Student at University of Illinois at Chicago

1) What are you doing now?

I currently live in Chicago and am completing my last year of medical school. After graduation, I will complete four years of residency training in the field of obstetrics and gynecology.

2) How do issues of ethics and values enter into your professional role?

There are so many ways I could answer this question as the medical field is ripe with issues of ethics and values. Since I am still a medical student, I will focus on medical training. During our third and fourth years of medical school, we are part of the care teams for patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings. While our role is primarily to learn, we still have the opportunity to impact patient care. As we are relatively inexperienced and sometimes performing procedures for the first time, we rely on our supervising physicians to ensure that patients are appropriately treated. It is a big adjustment to go from the classroom to the hospital floor, and learning the right thing to do both medically and ethically is a big challenge. As we continue to become more and more proficient in terms of the proper diagnosis and treatment of patients, taking the time to also reflect on what we've learned in terms of values and ethics is important as future physicians.

3) What societal ethics issues are most important for us to address and why?

Women's access to reproductive healthcare needs to continue to be addressed on both local and national levels. This includes everything from health education, to access to contraception, to genetic screening, to reasonable access to and appropriate counseling for abortions and more. I have the opportunity to directly provide this care as a future Ob/Gyn and it concerns me to think about external forces (governmental, institutional, religious, etc.) impeding my ability to provide the best and most appropriate care for my patient. There are certainly a number of points to discuss both medically and ethically which I cannot hope to address in this brief response, but at the end of the day, I believe that every woman should have access to the full spectrum of reproductive care.