TRU lecturer takes on the subject of ethics

Michelle Funk Coltman talks about ethics in palliative and end-of-life care

In respect of National Health Ethics Week in Canada, registered nurse and TRU senior lecturer Michelle Funk Coltman opened up about the importance of teaching these subjects for health professionals in training.

National Health Ethics Week is an opportunity for health professionals all over the country to talk about this very important subject as it pertains to the health care they provide daily.

For over a decade, Funk Coltman has focused her career in palliative and end-of-life care, a branch of health care that for many is sensitive and involves an intimate relationship with one’s ethics.

Funk Coltman has been teaching at TRU for 15 years and focuses much of her teachings on death and dying, life and living, self and others in nursing practice settings.

“Our profession is very embedded with ethics, as professionals, as nurses we have something that’s called a code of ethics. We take them very seriously and to heart,” Funk Coltman said. “Enacting that every day as a TRU faculty member with students in the clinical setting or the classroom when we speak of case studies or encounters we’ve had as healthcare professionals, it’s really important to ensure and emulate our ethics at all times, no matter where we are.”

In her Death and Dying class (HEAL 3330), which is taught as an interdisciplinary course, forces students to turn their technical training inwards and look at how they ethically think themselves.

“It’s about challenging our own notions of our own ethical stance in how we feel about those areas of practice as people. But when you come into my death and dying class it’s ‘But how do you feel about that?’ to think about the delivery of medical assistance for the dying,” Funk Coltman said.

Funk Coltman encourages other professions to take on a more reflective approach when it comes to ethical teachings. This reflective process allows students the time, space and education to think about these taboo subjects.

“Students come into education and they don’t know what to expect. They have an idea what it might be like but they really don’t expect the self-awareness and reflection that we gain in education. It changes us,” Funk Coltman said.

All-in-all, Funk Coltman views ethics in teaching as a huge priority.

“Ethics are huge, you have to be ethical and behave properly and practice in a certain way. We all have to have ethics, we all have to have an ethical lens as a society,” Funk Coltman concluded.