I was very pleased to be invited to serve on the Ethics Committee of Washington Hospital. I attended my first meeting this week. When it began, I was asked to introduce myself. In response, I took a few minutes to provide a description of my background. I spoke about my particular interest in the field of ethics and how during the past three years I have offered an adult education class on this subject.
A member of the committee had a follow-up question. I was asked, “So why do you want to be a member of this committee?”
I talked about my experience as a congregational rabbi and how I have been involved many times with individuals and families as they have confronted difficult decisions about the medical care of their loved ones. I expressed the hope that this provides me with some understanding of the issues hospital staff face in providing compassionate care.
Then I added an additional point of information that probably wasn’t so wise.
I shared that I have a brother who is a doctor, another brother who is a lawyer, and a third who is a teacher. I said that being concerned with ethics in medicine, law, education, and religion runs in my family.
Soon after this disclosure, I was asked to affirm the committee’s code of confidentiality. Of course I did. (Like I would even consider blabbing to my brothers about a particular case?)
The rest of the meeting was a spirited discussion that affirmed to me the value of this committee. I was impressed by the doctors, nurses, chaplains, and community members who shared their intelligence, knowledge, and empathy. At future meetings, I hope I can bring value to these deliberations by adding my own perspective.