Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Bioethics, Economics, and Cannibalism

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Bioethics, Economics, and Cannibalism

Article excerpt

Bioethics, economics, and cannibalism. After years of being geographically immobile because of family responsibilities, suddenly my youngest child was ready for college and I could go anywhere and take any job I wanted. But what job was that? When I found myself doing crossword puzzles to avoid the question, I realized the need for a two-stage approach, with stage one being "wind up life in D.C. and go somewhere for a year to decide." I also realized that what I most wanted to do with that year was immerse myself in reading and thinking about bioethics. Like many others my age who work in bioethics, I was rigorously trained in my discipline (economics) but my knowledge of bioethics came haphazardly from reading and interaction with others in the field. Fortunately, the American Medical Association's Institute for Ethics gave me a fellowship--the opportunity to read, write, and argue about bioethics full time and, incidentally, have tremendous fun.

But there was still that pesky problem of a paying job. Fortuitously, The Hastings Center was looking for a research associate and explicitly asking economists to apply. I did, and I've been here since October, working harder than I have in years on grant proposals, papers, and reports about topics like newborn screening, patient safety, access to hospice care, managed care ethics, and conflicts of interest in research. And, incidentally, having tremendous fun.

It is no light matter for an academic economist to shift professional identities as I have in coming here. …

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