Monday, March 13, 2006

Einstein Medical Halachah Society

You might have thought that this would have happened decades ago, but a new medical halachah society has just been started at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Here is the information regarding their next meeting. Here is the announcement:

The next Einstein MedicalHalacha Society meeting will take place this coming Tuesday March 21 at 8:45 PM inthe Einstein Shul, 1935 Eastchester Road, #28B, Bronx, NY 10461.


*Studying medicine on Shabbos*

*Switching Shabbos "call" with other Jews*

Case #1: "The anatomy practical"

Dan is a first year student toward the end of his first year anatomy course. Med School has been a tough transition for him with many ups (Disease Mech) and downs (Histology midterm), but surprisingly he actually finds himself enjoying Anatomy. The human body is so precise, delicate and unique; he often stops to think "Ma rabumaasecha." In fact, after an enthusiastic recommendation from Avi, he is considering Radiology as a career choice. The initial awkwardness working on a cadaver has been replaced by a sense of care and respect that Dan hopes will be the first of manyacts of kavod habriyot he will achieve as a doctor. Now, with the anatomy final approaching, Dan wonders whether he is allowed to study anatomy on shabbos. Moreover, he has even entertained the idea of visiting the anatomy lab onshabbos--just to look around. Or should he devote his free time shabbos afternoonlearning Torah?

Case 1B: "Shabbos in Disney"

Sara is a second year ophthalmology resident and would like to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthamology being held in Orlando, FL this winter. The conference runs for one week and features the latest and greatest lectures on ocular disease. Better yet, her residency program is reimbursing allcosts and providing her a week's vacation. Sara knows that her attendance willimpact on her knowledge of ocular pathology and improve patient care. However, many essential lectures will take place Saturday morning as the conference runs throughthe weekend. Can Sara attend the Saturday talks without taking notes or otherwise violating shabbos?

Case #2: "I can't believe Einstein put me on-call for shabbos, isn't this supposedto be a YU school?"

Josh is a third year medical student and just finished the first week of his first third-year clerkship -- surgery. Just barely removed from the fuzzy memories of sleeping in the padded chairs of Robbins Auditorium, the switch to the wards has been challenging to say the least. To add insult to injury, Josh didn't get his 1:1 at Bronx Lebanon Hospital for surgery. Instead he will spend the next eight weeks at Weiler. However, Josh and his co-clerks Reuven, David and Rebecca have a bigger issue on their hands. Andy, the chief resident has decreed that med student call will cover 24 hrs on the weekends, ending a long policy of no overnight call at Weiler. The problem is they all celebrate shabbos. Josh, Reuven and Rebecca are Orthodox while David is Conservative (and even attends AECOM synagogue services some Friday nights). Only two other students out of the group of six are gentile. How can they cover all Friday night and Saturday calls? The chief mean while is adamant that call be covered. He too is Jewish and has often needed to work in the hospital on YK. "Why should you be any different, you are all going to be doctors aren't you?" he declared [as only an overworked and underpaid surgical resident could]. After muchstress, discussion, and fear followed by more stress, discussion, and fear a possible solution is found. With some creative scheduling in exchange for extra calls taken by the Jewish clerks all shabbos calls could be covered. All, except for one Friday night, July fourth weekend, that the gentile students understandably refused. What are Josh, Reuven and Rebecca's options? Can they ask David to take the call, since he normally violates shabbos melachos anyway, though he attends Friday night services? Should an Orthodox student take the call (perhaps they will at least know what not to do)? Or should they all skip the call, potentially provoking the wrath of the surgical chief?*Note: This is a true story and should never happen to anyone. Only the names havebeen changed to protect the innocent (or guilty).

Case 2B: Would the answer to above case be any different had the participants beenresidents and not medical students?

*** Please email me or post a comment if you'd like more information, or directions. ***

A personal note: I am on the faculty of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, but have nothing to do with clinical assignments. (I have a PhD, not an MD.) The issues in Case 1 do affect me, though; occasionally a conference comes up that includes a weekend and I often have work-related reading that "should" be done over Shabat. I'll share in a future post how I have dealt with these problems. My wife IS a practicing physician and issues similar to Cases 2 and 2B come up on a regular basis. If she gives me permission I'll share what she does at a later time.


Blogger Zackary Sholem Berger said...

I'd be interested in follow-up information (the decision made, the guidelines followed) about the Shabbos call issue, since this is something that will come up for me frequently.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Joe in Australia said...

I Am Not a Rabbi, but it seems to me that if any Jew has to work on Shabbos then it would be wrong to distinguish between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews: they each have the same obligation.

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