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Master of Arts in Bioethics Student Roger ColeRoger Cole, MD

Roger Cole, of Hickory, has been a surgeon and a private practitioner for the past 13 years, but health problems limited his ability to work. As he recovered from a second surgery on his spine, Cole was surfing the Internet and learned of a seminar being held at Wake Forest. At the seminar, Cole spoke with Brad Tharpe, then associate director of the bioethics program, the only one of its kind in the state.

Cole now has a position at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Salisbury, which, he says, is unique because it’s 60 percent clinical, which includes seeing patients, and 40 percent research and educational. An associate clinical faculty member at Wake Forest, Cole plans to continue teaching residents and medical students, in addition to becoming more involved with the Center for Bioethics, Health & Society. Cole was also recently selected from a nationwide pool of Veterans Administration applicants to receive the VA/University of Chicago Ethics Consultation Fellowship.  This fellowship is a one year intensive training opportunity in health care ethics consultation taking place on the campus of the University of Chicago’s MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics.  Upon completion of the health care ethics fellowship, Dr. Cole will devote half of his time to advancing ethical and moral leadership at the local, VISN, and national level and to promoting  competent, efficient, and compassionate health care for our veterans.

Cole, a part-time student, appreciates the bioethics master’s program’s flexible scheduling options. He can take as many courses per semester as his schedule allows. “Another thing that I really enjoy about this program is the diversity of the students — people with higher educations and graduate degrees, undergraduate degrees, and people from diverse backgrounds, not only in education but in life.”

Deborah Love, JD, MBA, MA

Bioethics Masters Student Deborah Love

Deborah Love was looking to invest her future.  The decision to enter grad school after being a business woman for 30 plus years was not something she took lightly. For much of her life she has lived in academic communities – first Ann Arbor, Michigan for 25 years and now Chapel Hill for 11 years.  “I like university towns,” she says, “because people there are excited about their work well into their 70’s and 80’s.”
“I really wanted to be one of those people, and I felt like I was in danger of getting stale doing the work I had done for most of my adult life,” says Love, an executive coach and organizational development consultant who holds an MBA in organizational behavior and industrial relations.  With a passion for the healthcare field and a law degree that was “somewhat dormant,” Love enrolled at Wake Forest University, where she workied toward a master of arts in bioethics, the core of bioethics graduate study at Wake Forest. She was enrolled in the program part-time.

Though she initially believed she was taking a radical career departure, Love has been surprised by how applicable her experience in organization change, communication, and human dynamics is to the field of bioethics. “I have spent a lot of my life working with diverse constituencies – helping facilitate dialogue to work through differences and build consensus to move forward. That’s a skill that’s going to be tapped in bioethics. Plus, my law degree was just sitting there as a stray part of my life. This has reignited my legal training, and that’s really exciting.”

Love found making new friendships in the program – an unexpected bonus.  And her connections with faculty have helped land her an internship in bioethics at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

“I sometimes wish I had discovered this field sooner,” says Love. “This is definitely where I’m meant to be.  I’m looking at it like I’ve got 20 or 30 years to make a difference.  I feel rejuvenated and I’m betting on this new-found direction to keep me healthy and vital. This is not a small investment … it’s an investment in my life.”


Gerardo Maradiaga, MA

Bioethics Master Degree Student Gerardo Maradiaga

“I was fascinated just by the array of issues that were out there,” said Maradiaga, who left UNC with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. Being part of an ethics committee at a hospital appeals to Maradiaga.As an undergrad, Gerardo Maradiaga thought about pursuing a career in family medicine. Coming from a background of family doctors, it seemed a logical choice as he worked toward a bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Maradiaga, of Roanoke Rapids, has worked at Halifax Regional Medical Center Emergency Department as a patient liaison and has shadowed a surgeon during multiple procedures. He is an Emergency Medical Technician and plans to become a paramedic and emergency physician. But en route to that goal, a philosophy course piqued his interest, enough so that he enrolled in a bioethics course this past summer.

“If I continue this route, whether it being a paramedic, or if I decide to be a doctor or a (physician’s assistant), I would love to be able to be involved in that. If you’re in medical school, or a paramedic, you don’t really have the time to sit down and think about these things because you have so many other obligations. But that’s what I really like about this program. I feel like if I do go down that route, I’ll at least be prepared.”

In November 2010, Gerardo became the new bioethics project coordinator for the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.  In this role, he provides administrative support for the Clinical Ethics Committee and its subsidiary subcommittees, conducts research requested by the committees, organizes educational events, aids in policy discussions, and creates status reports and other educational brochures. As a part-time student in the MA in Bioethics program, Gerardo had the flexibility to work a full time job and attend classes during the evening.  “

“As a student, I’ve learned about the detailed functions and operations of ethics consultation and IRBs, and the issues surrounding health-law & public policy. As a bioethics project coordinator, I get to experience the practical application of what I’ve learned in the classroom, and there is no doubt the program has given me a strong foundation for handling bioethical issues in the real world.”

Meg Maultsby, MA

Meg Maultsby earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Religion at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC in 2009.  She was very excited to start the MA in Bioethics program in January 2010.  After completing the bioethics program, she plans to attend medical school.  “Starting the bioethics program right after undergrad gave me a head start on my graduate education and allowed me to focus completely on bioethics.”

Meg believes that all physicians, whether they realize it or not, are bioethicists.  Meg reflects, “Doctor Melvin Konner states, in the preface to his novel Becoming a Doctor: A Journey of Initiation in Medical School, ‘Medical schools have failed, and continue to fail, to produce graduates who are capable of humane as well as merely scientific medical care.’  This, in my opinion, is the root cause of the development of the field of bioethics.”

“Thanks to the bioethics program at Wake Forest University, I now have a deeper understanding of the human side of medicine.  I have a firmer grasp of the doctor-patient relationship.  I have a much greater appreciation for the importance of public health policy as well as a working knowledge of health insurance practices and the federal regulation of our health care system.  All of this is the result of a year of studying to earn an MA in bioethics at Wake Forest.  Having a master of arts in bioethics will allow me to competently serve and lead on clinical ethics committees and institutional review boards as a physician.  It will enable me to confront ethical decision-making processes with my patients and their families with more confidence and skill.  Having an MA in bioethics will make me a better doctor.”

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