Courses

SC 43350. Introduction to Hospice and Palliative Care

This one-credit pass/fail course is designed to provide undergraduate preprofessional students with an introductory understanding of palliative and hospice care.  It is designed specifically for undergraduates interested in careers in healthcare, but can also be useful to students aspiring to work in other helping professions.  This course will provide students with an in-depth understanding of palliative and hospice care, focusing on how this care is given in the current healthcare system.  Hospice administrators, physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual care staff, and bereavement therapists are the faculty for the course. Students will also be given an introduction in compassionate interpersonal communication skills, which are needed in caring for people who are in need of palliative care and for people who are dying.  A number of films will be used including the Frontline documentaries, “Facing Death” and “Okuyamba.”  Offered every three semesters. Learn more.

SCPP 30300. Introduction to Clinical Ethics

The focus of this course will be an examination of the advances in medicine over the last 30 years that have challenged traditional values, ethical norms, and the institutional processes and procedures in place that facilitate decision-making in the healthcare setting. It will include a sketch of the most recent advances in the various fields of medicine, followed by an examination of the clinical and ethical
 questions they raise and how they have affected the physician-patient relationship. Note: This course counts as a general elective. Fall and spring.

SCPP 30320. Film and the Physician—Portrayals of Medicine in Film and the Arts

This course will examine the representation of medicine in film, still art, and texts. The point of view will be to examine the interdisciplinary arts, primarily film plus secondary readings of literary texts, with the goal of broadening the understanding of the lives of patients, families, and providers for future healthcare professionals, particularly physicians. The goal is to heighten the awareness of the world surrounding medical encounters and encourage an open-minded approach to people in medical need. Based on Cinemeducation training in medical schools and residency programs, topics examined include delivering bad news, end of life 
issues, medical malpractice, family dynamics, professionalism, cultural diversity, gender issues, grief, balance of professional and personal life, and medical errors.
 Film clips will be introduced and reviewed with specific discussion points. Strong emphasis will be placed on group discussion. Assignments include writing four short papers, leading one discussion, and a writing final paper.

SCPP 30401. Medical Counseling Skills and Patient-Centered Medicine

This course is designed to provide an overview of and introduction to practical training in medical counseling skills and patient-centered medicine.  It is designed specifically for undergraduates interested in careers in healthcare, but can also be helpful for students aspiring to other helping professions.  This course will provide a theoretical and evidence-based foundation in compassionate care and communication skills for patient care.  Emphasis will be placed on clear and professional communication across a wide range of patient care situations.  Patient scenarios are simulated using standardized patient actors. This three-credit hour class, with limited enrollment, will provide opportunities to practice these skills through practical classroom training, outside assignments, and an introduction to the field of compassionate care in medicine as it applies to the medical professions. Offered in both the fall and spring semesters.

SCPP 30405. Compassionate Care and the Medical Professions

This course is designed to provide the theoretical and practical foundation for providing compassionate care in the medical professions.  It will provide an introduction to the science of compassionate care in medicine and provide the behavioral and attitudinal components to providing effective patient care, as well as teach how practitioners can be balanced in providing patient care.  Topics include research in the science of compassion, empirical studies relating clinician communication skills with medical outcomes, clinician burnout, compassion fatigue, maintaining caring when encountering with suffering, and physician self-care.  While designed specifically for the future medical professional, the course is also open (as enrollment allows) to students in allied helping professions.  Class material will include research from medical, neuroscientific, psychological, caring science, biological, business, and spiritual sources.  It is cross-listed in the Science, Technology, and Values minor.  Offered in the fall semester.

SCPP 30406. Spiritualities of Caring in the Helping Professions

This three-credit hour seminar course is designed to explore how helping professionals articulate, cultivate, and rely on their spirituality or philosophy of caring as they participate in the work of helping and healing others.  We will study how helping professionals rely on a spirituality of caring in order to help them maintain and cultivate their compassion in the face of suffering while encountering the problem of evil. An overall model for a spirituality/philosophy of caring will be presented and then explored as it is exemplified in various spiritual and philosophical traditions.  The course is not intended to be an exhaustive survey of all spiritual traditions, but an introductory opportunity for the students to understand the role of spirituality in helping work leading to an articulation of their own spirituality of caring for their future in the helping professions.   The course is designed especially for preprofessional students and anyone who is preparing for work in a helping profession.  Health professionals representing various spiritual traditions are invited to give guest lectures on their own spirituality of caring in their various healthcare roles.  We will rely on readings from Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, as well as other traditions and philosophies. We will also will examine writings by people who have reflected on the practical aspects of living out a spirituality of caring.  Offered in the spring semester.

SCPP 40001. Preparing for Health Professions

This course will prepare students to apply to graduate programs in health professions. Topics covered will include writing a personal statement, framing your experiences, preparing for interviews and examining the specifics of centralized applications. We will also have panel discussions regarding the balance of personal and professional life, the meaning of professionalism, hot topics in healthcare, and how medicine is portrayed in the arts. Satisfactory performance will require completion of Concourse quizzes, written reflections in the form of questionnaires, written organization of experiences, and a draft of your personal statement. This course should be taken the semester preceding your application.

SCPP 46397. Directed Readings

Permission required. Readings focus on learning how patients, families, and healthcare professionals experience illness and healing, how the stories that patients tell become the basis for diagnosis and therapeutic response, what it’s like to go through medical training and grow in identity as a physician, and the nature of the doctor-patient relationship and how it is changing. Fall and spring. Note: This course counts as a general elective.

SCPP 46397-02. Introduction to Personalism in Medicine: The Pathos Project

Founded by medical students and physicians in 2005, the Pathos Project stems from a deep concern over the depersonalization of medical care. Compassion, empathy, and attention to the suffering patient are too often left as glaring holes during clinical interactions. While not the sole cause of this failure, deficiencies in medical training undoubtedly contribute to the problem. The Pathos Project recognizes that developing clinical competence is necessary but not sufficient for physicians and responds to this doctor-patient relationship crisis by developing a consciousness of suffering and its contextual interpersonal dynamics.  

This is a small, one-credit discussion-based class that covers topics such as patient suffering, the skill of being-with as the foundation of patient care, patient-physician relationships, formation of the physician, spirituality in medicine, biomedical reductionism, and even humor in medicine.  Dr. Dominic O. Vachon and seven physicians from the local community and around the country facilitate the discussions throughout the seemster.  Course requirements include reading a few articles for each class, volutneering at a local site or one where you already volunteer, and writing a five-page reflection/integration paper at the end of the course.  

Preference is given to juniors and seniors, but the class is open to all undergraduates if space is available. This pass/fail course meets on eight Thursday nights interspersed throughout the semester from 7-9:00 p.m.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Vachon at (574) 631-9536 or e-mail him.