10 November 2023 • AlumsSTEM Exploring Ethical Dilemmas in Healthcare

Dr. Arnold Cohen ’71, P’05 recently visited “Ethical Debates in Medicine” to lend perspective to classroom discussions.

Over the course of the semester, students in the “Ethical Debates in Medicine” First-Year Seminar taught by Professor of Religious Studies Etin Anwar tackle questions such as ‘how do we respond ethically to problems posed by medical practices and policies?’ ‘Should medical decisions consider the patient’s cultural and religious backgrounds?’ ‘How do different cultures treat health and illness?’

Dr. Arnold Cohen ’71, P’05, who practiced gastroenterology in Spokane, Washington for 38 years and currently serves as Professor of Medicine at the Washington State University College of Medicine and an Associate Clinical Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington School of Medicine, recently visited the First-Year Seminar. He shared a wealth of practical experience and insights from his career.

During his visit, each student presented a specific case study they have examined for the class. The case studies were supplied by Dr. Cohen and experienced by himself or one of his colleagues. After reading about each patient’s circumstances, students presented on the inherent ethical considerations surrounding the case.

After their presentations, Dr. Cohen shared additional considerations and insights about how each of the stakeholders in the case responded.

“Having Dr. Cohen come to our FSEM was a great experience -- he provided amazing insight into the process of medical ethics, nuancing our learning with his own lived experience,” Hudson Chou ’27 says.

Vincent Hassell-Higgins ’27, who intends to pursue a career in the surgical field, says he’s grateful for the opportunity to launch his studies in medicine with an emphasis on ethics. “Being exposed to medical ethics so early, especially from an experienced doctor, provides very valuable experiences and knowledge I will need later on,” he says.

In addition to lending his time to class, Dr. Cohen joined students for lunch, where Ella Wirth ’27 says she gained important insights. “As someone who hopes to continue into the medical field, having the chance to hear about his path to becoming a medical doctor was both an exciting and enriching experience,” she says. 

After graduating from HWS, Dr. Cohen attended Harvard Medical School, then completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his fellowship in gastroenterology at Northwestern University.