Anthony DelConte, George P. Sillup
An Ethics-Intensive, Service-Learning Experience in a Community Long-Term Care Facility
Providing service learning experiences to students is a long-standing tradition in Jesuit Colleges and Universities. These experiences can be transformational in a student’s personal and professional development. In the long-term care setting, assessment of student learning has demonstrated that attitudes toward older adults have changed in the positive direction by the end of the course. The Pharmaceutical & Healthcare (PMK) Department at Saint Joseph’s University offers a major for business students and a minor for students in the integrated health services and natural science departments. Among the classes offered is a service-learning and ethics-intensive course, Healthcare Delivery Alternatives. The long-term care setting for the service component of this course is the St. Ignatius Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center (SINHRC), where students interact directly with older and marginalized residents and explore ethical issues that abound in this healthcare setting. Complementing the service component of the course is critical reflection and exploration of ethical issues related to SINHRC’s patient care as well as assessment of ethical implications uncovered by the instructor or students. Students are grounded by revisiting ethical and moral theory they have studied in other courses. Their presentations at the end of the course show how they have connected with not only SINRC’s residents but also many of the staff members, who hail from the same geographic and socioeconomic area as SINRC. Overall, this service-learning, ethics-intensive course equips students with the ability to consider medical issues, and issues of moral consequence with an enlightened perspective of fundamental moral values and ethical principles. It prepares them to be productive contributors to society with well-established ethical frameworks to guide future decisions they will make.