Tough Questions, Informative Discussions, and Opportunities to Count Our Blessings

From 2006 to 2010, I hosted a weekly radio show, sponsored by Upstate Medical University (Syracuse, NY). It gave me the opportunity to interview truly knowledgeable experts in every aspect of medicine and healthcare you can imagine.

It was an incredible learning experience. I would walk away from our recordings each week realizing that for every iota of information I knew or had just learned, there were millions of iotas I didn’t know, would never know, and might never even know to ask about. Gratifying, brain-stimulating, and sometimes overwhelming.

photo - dr eastwood
Dr Gregory Eastwood

Included in the conversations was a monthly feature that focused on ethical questions in medicine and healthcare. I co-hosted the sessions with Dr. Gregory Eastwood, the president of the university, and a member of the Bioethics and Humanities Department. We made quite a team: the professional who, for decades, had dealt with these issues and the people who faced them, paired with me, the patient, who had never had to deal with most of them, but who tried to put herself in the shoes of those very frightened, overwhelmed and sometimes angry patients and family members who were forced to face difficult and often heart-wrenching decisions.

During those years we produced dozens of rich discussions, dealing with facts, reality, and perception, as affected by morality, religion / spirituality, culture, the law, and the human heart. I just loved those conversations – they made me think in directions my brain had never been forced to go before. (One of the results was the reminder to count my blessings. Few of us do that often enough.)

In 2010, I had to walk away from my hosting duties. My travel schedule had made it all but impossible to keep up the weekly recording schedule; totally unfair to the producers, and exhausting for me. I look back on the experience with gratitude for both the opportunity of meeting so many intelligent people with so much expertise, and the in-depth education I received on so many topics related to medicine, the healthcare system, and their impact on people.

Fast forward to today.

Frankly, I miss those bioethics discussions. They were stimulating, enlightening, and thought-provoking. They made me think – hard – and they kept me open-minded because I knew I would always learn something I never understood before. I consider such difficult discussions and considerations to be an important part of my own continued growth as a human being.

Which brings us to the subject of today’s post – an opportunity for YOU to grow in your profession of advocacy.


APHA Connect! Colloquy*

Now that we have the new APHA Connect! Discussion forums up and running smoothly, it’s time to introduce some of these deeper discussions in hopes our members, and eventually their clients, will benefit from them.


Introducing APHA Connect! Colloquy: ethically-challenging situations intended to spark interesting discourse, new ideas, or possible solutions as they relate to the people we work with, requiring us to have an extra measure of knowledge, resources, understanding, and empathy.

Examples might be: working with a patient who seeks highly expensive (not covered by insurance) treatment recommended by his doctor when your research shows a very small likelihood that treatment will help him. Or, approaching a client’s provider who you suspect has made a grave medical error. Or, dealing with a patient who asks you to help him carry out his (physician-assisted) suicide.

We also invite APHA members to submit questions for discussion.

Our first Colloquy discussion was suggested by Ilene Corina from PULSE of NY:
Would you work with a transgender patient?

APHA Members are invited to participate in the discussion, or simply read what others have said, at APHA Connect! As time goes on, you’ll find all Colloquy questions linked from the main forum navigation.

Not a member of APHA? Why not join us! Learn more about the benefits of membership here.

I”m excited to see what you all have to say on these topics, what lessons, resources, and opinions you’ll share with us, and what additional questions – and answers – will be raised by our knowledgeable and experienced membership.

See you in the Forum!


(Note – comments have been closed for this post – please move them to APHA Connect!)

*Colloquy Definition: a discussion, dialogue, often a term used for intellectual discourse

APHA Blog : The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates
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