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Bioethics Reflective Essay

January 8, 2019 in

  Reflective Essay

      In this essay I will explain why I chose to become a PA, and explain how the principles dignity, autonomy will guide me in practicing as a PA.

      Many years ago my mother was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer and it was a very difficult news for the whole family. We explored a second opinion but the diagnosis stayed the same. The doctor invited us to his office to discuss our options and answer our questions. One option given to her was chemotherapy and the other was to manage her pain until it was time for her to depart. My mother in law asked which treatment would he have chosen if his mother were in a similar situation. He shared his opinion and said “if it were my mother I would advise her not to undergo chemotherapy, since it would not increase her quality of life by much but would increase her suffering”. After hearing his advice and doing some research we discussed the options with the rest of our family. She decided she was not going to undergo chemotherapy, so we emotionally preparing ourselves to stand by her side, understanding that we had very little time together. From here on we spent every moment possible with her at home and at the hospital. During this time the hospital staff became like family to us. We received tremendous compassion and understanding from the nurses, PA’s, and doctors on staff. The care they provided for my mother in law and the support they gave to our family had a huge impact on us. It was this experience that allowed me to desire a career in the medical field, where I could be a part of a team that would provide compassionate care to their patients. After exploring the different professions I decided that the PA profession would be the career that would help me accomplish my goals. 

      In the PA profession you have the responsibility of diagnosing, constructing a plan, and providing treatment to your patient. One of the most important aspects of PA practice is building relationships with your patient’s. To build such a relationship it is important for a practicing PA is having respect for a patient’s dignity, and autonomy. During my mother in law’s hospital stays there were some things the nurses would do that caught my attention. For example they would always give her two gowns instead of one and never asked her to remove her hijab or her pants. She would wear one gown with the opening towards the front and the other with its opening towards the back. I found this to be very respectful because my mother in law was a religious muslim and very conservative. The illness stripped her of her normal life causing her to end up at the hospital for weeks at a time leading to limited freedom and frustration.This little act on part of the nurses made her feel more comfortable, respected and made her stays at the hospital a bit more tolerable. As PA’s we will be encountering patients with different life styles, cultures and backgrounds respecting their individualism is important in providing quality patient care. Treating a person with dignity can be expressed by respecting them as individuals and giving them importance(Kirk p. 202). Small acts on our part can have a big effect on our patients. 

      Next in practice I plan to respect my patient’s autonomy and this requires me to allow the patient to stay in control of  the acts, situations and decisions that concerns them (Yeo, Moorhouse & Dalziel p.104). As PA’s we will be at the front line to break news to our patients and how this news is communicated may influence the decision they make. To promote autonomy I will be be clear and honest about information that is given to my patients including any harms or benefits that they may endure. I will make an honest attempt to clear any misconceptions and provide them with any outside resources in the case that our institution can not provide the most beneficial treatment. In the case that the patient’s decision seems questionable I will explore what the underlying causes may be. Giving the patients all the tools they need to make an informed consent will allow the patient to make an autonomous decision. 

      In conclusion I explained why I chose to become a PA and, how the principles dignity, and autonomy will guide my practice in the future.


Kirk, T, (2014), Staying at Home: Risk, Accommodations, and Ethics in Hospice Care. Journal 

of Hospice and Pallative Nursing, 16(4), pp. 200-205

Sulmasy, D. P. (2013). The varieties of human dignity: a logical and conceptual analysis

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 16(4), 937-944. doi:10.1007/s11019-012-9400-1

Yeo, M., & Moorhouse A. (2010). Beneficence. In Yeo, M., Moorhouse A., Khan P., & Rodney, P. (Eds.), Concepts and Cases in Nursing Ethics. [3rd edition] (pp. 103-116). 

Ontario, Canada: Broadview Press.

Yeo, M., Moorhouse A., & Dalziel, J., (2010). Autonomy. In Yeo, M., Moorhouse A., Khan P., & Rodney, P. (Eds.), Concepts and Cases in Nursing Ethics. [3rd edition] (pp. 91-97, 103-109). Ontario, Canada: Broadview Press.