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Donchian Foundation Funds New Internship Program to Integrate Academic Training and Practical Ethics

January 5, 1999 -- Through a new internship program in practical ethics, students at the University of Virginia will have the opportunity to observe first-hand how ethical issues are addressed in such fields as law, medicine, business and government.

Made possible by a $500,000 gift from the Richard D. Donchian Foundation of Greenwich, Conn., the internships will allow students studying ethics in various schools and departments to see how ethical principles can be applied in real-world situations.

"Practical experience provides an important basis for education in ethics, especially when combined with critical reflection," said James F. Childress, the Kyle Professor of Religious Studies at the University and a leading authority on biomedical ethics. "The Donchian Foundation Internships will integrate academic training and practical experience in a way that allows each to illuminate the other."

The Donchian Foundation Internships were proposed by the University's Working Group in Ethics. A coalition of faculty who teach and conduct research in practical ethics in a wide range of disciplines, the group includes prominent ethicists in the School of Medicine, the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, the Department of Religious Studies, and the Department of Philosophy, among other schools and departments.

"We were very impressed by the University's interdisciplinary approach to practical ethics and the caliber of the faculty in this field," said Geoffrey M. Parkinson, president of the Donchian Foundation. "They are clearly willing to work across disciplines and are dedicated to sharing ideas with their colleagues. Under their leadership, the internship program will establish a benchmark in the study of practical ethics, and we hope it will be replicated at other institutions."

Childress said the Donchian Foundation Internships will be modeled on a pilot program in clinical ethics conducted this past fall.

The 10 students awarded internships in the program spent a half day each week in the University's Health Sciences Center to observe how ethical dilemmas arise and are dealt with in clinical settings.

Guided by faculty mentors at each placement site, the interns worked in such areas as newborn intensive care, AIDS services, rural health care, genetics, oncology, organ transplantation and adolescent medicine. In conjunction with their fieldwork, the students attended twice-weekly seminars on clinical bioethics and presented case studies and research projects based on their experiences.

"The seminar complemented the internships very effectively," said Childress. "Through peer-to-peer learning, each student gained from the experiences of others."

Danielle L. Kalletta, a pre-medical student from Springfield, was assigned to the University's AIDS clinic. Each week she watched the clinic's physicians and staff deal with such sensitive matters as partner notification, the protection of patients' privacy rights, and the threat of AIDS to unborn children.

"It was an amazing experience. I would recommend it to anyone going into medicine, public health or health policy," said Kalletta. "It will help me as a doctor to think about issues that I might not be exposed to in medical school."

Carlton Haywood Jr., a fourth-year student from Roanoke, was equally enthusiastic about his internship. Assigned to the chaplaincy services and pastoral education program in the University Hospital, he accompanied chaplains and chaplaincy residents in their consultations on such issues as the selection of organ transplant recipients, the ethics of experimental treatments, and patients' fears about impending medical procedures.

"Sometimes patients are more comfortable talking about their fears with a chaplain than with their doctor," Haywood said. "Patient communication is an important part of the chaplain's role."

Haywood described the internship as "a great culmination" to his studies in bioethics at the University. "I spent several years studying bioethics from an academic perspective. It's another thing to be on the hospital ward or to sit in on a meeting of the hospital ethics committee," he said.

"You can't get that from a book."

The Donchian Foundation was established with funds from the estate of Richard D. Donchian, a pioneer in the field of managed futures who died in 1993. Dedicated to advancing a more conservative approach to futures trading, he developed the trend timing method of futures investing and introduced the mutual fund concept to the field.

For more information on the program, contact James Childress, professor of religious studies, at (804) 924-6724 or 924-3741; William Sublette, director of Development Communications, (804) 924-1057.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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