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Medical student lands fellowship to study ethics, discipline

May. 2, 2019, 9:08 AM


by Kathy Whitney

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine student Didi Odinkemelu is one of 14 medical students chosen for the 2019 Medical Program of the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) to participate in a two-week program in Germany and Poland this summer, which uses the conduct of physicians in Nazi-occupied Europe as a way to reflect on medical ethics today.

Didi Odinkemelu

Now in its 10th year of operation, FASPE provides a historical lens to engage graduate students in professional schools as well as early-stage practitioners in five fields (business, journalism, law, medicine and seminary) in an intensive course of study focused on contemporary ethical issues in their professions.

Odinkemelu attended Northwestern University, where she studied French literature and science in human culture. While there, she nurtured her interests in global health and social medicine.

“I first heard about FASPE as an undergrad from an alumnus. I was inspired by his newfound courage, and how dramatically his FASPE experience had altered his course,” she said.

Odinkemelu joins a diverse group of 70 FASPE fellows across all five programs who were chosen through a competitive process that drew applicants from across the U.S. and the world. FASPE covers all program costs, including travel, food and lodging.

The experience of the medical fellows is enhanced by traveling alongside the seminary fellows, who together — in formal and informal settings — consider how ethical constructs and norms in their respective professions align and differ.

In 2019, the three groups will travel from June 15-28 beginning their trip in Berlin and then traveling on to Krakow and Oswiecim (the town in which Auschwitz is located), Poland.

After the program, each fellow will submit an essay focused on a contemporary ethical issue of his or her choice. Select essays are published in the annual FASPE Journal, which showcases work in all five disciplines.

FASPE maintains long-term relationships with its fellows in order to sustain commitment to ethical behavior and to provide a forum for continued dialogue. To date, FASPE has more than 500 alumni across its five programs.

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