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Stony Brook Launches New Master's Program

University now accepting applications for master's program in medical humanities, compassionate care, and bioethics.

Applications are being accepted for a new master's program in medical humanities, compassionate care, and bioethics at Stony Brook University, set to launch in the spring of 2011.

According to Dr. Stephen Post, director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, the program consists of 30 credit hours and is open to students in academic areas like medicine, nursing, social work, healthcare administration, law and more.

"That is just a great opportunity for a terrific year of thoughtful reflection on an area that is so important in our modern world," Post said.

Post said schools are increasingly offering programs like this one, some housed within medical schools and some under the umbrella of other academic programs, to deal with what he called "the big kinds of questions" and "public policy questions." Topics such as stem cell research, genetic manipulation, assisted suicide, the influence of pharmaceutical companies on the practice of medicine, new treatments and research ethics are just a few examples of what the new program will examine. It is broader than just bioethics, however.

"We think the most significant issue these days for a lot of people is feeling dehumanized, uncared for, in clinical environments. Feeling like the kidney in room three or the tumor in room eight," Post said. "Not feeling that health professionals want to affirm and connect with the patient as a person, just looking at the patient as a puzzle. "

Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, dean of the School of Medicine, said compassionate care is a vital part of modern medicine.

"In an age in which we are inundated by laboratory tests, CT and MRI scans and highly accurate predictors of the outcomes of disease, I believe it is absolutely critical that the next generation of physicians and other healthcare professionals  be schooled in the humanistic aspects of healthcare," Kaushansky said. "Stony Brook University and the School of Medicine embrace compassionate care in our outpatient clinics and hospital."

One medical student thought the program looked like a compelling one and said she would consider applying for it.

"The little glimpses we have into the courses are really wonderful, so I think it would be really interesting," said Lauren Morris, a second-year medical student.

The center is hosting an open house for potential students on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Room 080.

Stony Brook also announced a new master's program in journalism earlier this year.

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