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International medicine, ethics focus of resident’s book

Sep. 27, 2012, 9:55 AM

Second-year General Surgery resident Anji Wall, M.D., Ph.D., hasn’t yet decided her surgical specialty, but she’s already written the book on ethics and international medicine, literally.

Anji Wall, M.D., Ph.D.

Her book, “Ethics for International Medicine: A Practical Guide for Aid Workers in Developing Countries,” was recently published by Dartmouth College Press.

“My hope is that this book will serve as a guide for those treating patients abroad for the first time, as well as for health care providers wanting to be better prepared the next time they go back,” Wall said.

Wall combed through more than 40 years of journal articles and narratives written by international medical aid workers, comparing their experiences with those of physicians practicing in developing countries.

From this research, she presented 15 case studies that analyze differences in medical treatment, values and beliefs, methods of communication, accepted norms and limited resources.

“As doctors, we all face ethical situations in medicine every day, particularly when we are placed in different cultures and continents,” Wall said. “What surprised me the most is that, until now, no one had written down what these dilemmas are and how we should approach them,” she said.
Wall’s case studies give real world examples of health care situations, and provide readers with the tools they need to identify, analyze and, ultimately, resolve these ethical dilemmas for themselves.

“We are incredibly lucky to have Anji here in our residency — not only does she contribute internationally on a scholarly level, we all reap the benefit of her down-to-earth skills as an educator in conferences and on the wards,” said Kyla Terhune, M.D., assistant professor of General Surgery and Anesthesiology and associate program director of the General Surgery Residency program.

Walls leads discussions on ethics in the General Surgery Bonus Conferences held five times a year. She is also an editor and major contributor to the SCORE project, a non-profit consortium formed as the Surgical Council on Resident Education, and she is a member of the Vanderbilt Center for Ethics.

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