Clinical Ethicist selected to be 2017-18 Executive-in-Residence

Alexandra Perry headshot

Dr. Alexandra Perry, Clinical Ethicist at INTEGRIS Health in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has been named the 2017-18 Fitzgerald Executive-in-Residence (EIR) at Marietta College’s McDonough Center for Leadership and Business.

Perry, who taught at the McDonough Center from 2013-15, will focus her EIR project on “Ethical Issues in Healthcare.”

“With all of the discussion about healthcare reform, I think this EIR project will be very timely,” said Dr. Gama Perruci, Dean of McDonough. “I also like the ethical component, which will be incredibly important for our students as future healthcare professionals. This will be the first time that we have an EIR project with a focus on the healthcare field. With so many of our students majoring in this academic area, I think this project will really add an important real-world dimension to their academic experience.”

Perry said that healthcare is one of the fastest growing areas of employment for college graduates.

“National conversations about healthcare are beginning to highlight questions about health that stem from the liberal arts, including ethics,” she said. “I hope that this project will prompt discussions on campus about topics such as the ethical issues raised for healthcare by homeless or unrepresented populations; end-of-life moral issues; communicating about critical information; disagreement and values conflict in medicine, and more.”

Students will be introduced to and asked to explore ethical issues in healthcare with an emphasis on three themes:

  • Leading and communicating in the midst of moral distress
  • Making sense and use of conflict
  • Fragility, vulnerability, and resilience

Project participants will meet and become acquainted with healthcare providers and ancillary services to understand some of the more complex ethical challenges in medicine and will develop projects with an aim toward addressing these challenges.

Some of the topics covered will include: the ethical issues raised for healthcare by homeless or unrepresented populations; challenges in pediatrics; end-of-life moral issues; communicating about critical information; disagreement and values conflict in medicine, and more. As a culminating activity, students will work in groups to identify and develop papers on a particular ethical issue in healthcare and will then develop presentations on practical ways that these issues might be addressed.

“I hope to use healthcare issues of current local and national importance to allow students to reflect on these themes and think more about the topic of healthcare,” Perry said. “Some of the questions we will explore will include: How do we make sense of disagreement in medicine? How can we safeguard our most vulnerable patients? What do we do about patients who make poor healthcare decisions? When can patients be said to be fully informed? What moral obligations do we have to the patients that we treat? Is it right for healthcare to be commodified? How do we balance the needs of employees, employers, health insurance companies, and the government in developing and implementing healthcare plans? How can we be effective care providers in the midst of moral distress? 

The yearlong project is divided into two parts. In the fall semester, the teams will work with the EIR to gain an understanding of medical ethics using a case study approach. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with healthcare providers and leaders working with local organizations with a healthcare focus in order to learn about the ethical issues commonly faced by the communities that they care for. The learning experiences will be organized around the three EIR themes, and students will also learn about the tools and resources that ethicists use in the healthcare setting. In the spring, the students will form groups and work to develop presentations on ethical issues in medicine, and will organize a one-day forum for Marietta Memorial Hospital staff on medical ethics where they will deliver their presentations. 

Students interested in being considered for the 2017-18 EIR program should send a resume to Dr. Perruci ( by Friday, April 28. All resumes will be reviewed by Dr. Perry, and the EIR project participants will be announced before the end of the spring semester. All Marietta College students, including incoming freshmen, are eligible to apply.