Medical ethics body has significant influence around the globe
Emblematic of the breadth and diversity of the field of consultation-psychiatry and the Academy’s membership, ACLP president Rebecca Weintraub Brendel, MD, JD, FACLP, has been appointed to the prestigious Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) at the American Medical Association (AMA).
Dr. Brendel previously served as a delegate to the AMA from the American Psychiatric Association (APA). She was nominated for the seven-year post by AMA president, Patrice Harris MD, MA, also a psychiatrist.
CEJA holds an important place in medical ethics, with its opinions and policies used around the world as guidance for decision-making and public policy—including through its responsibility for maintaining and updating the AMA’s 165-year-old Code of Medical Ethics.
Dr. Brendel is director of the master’s degree program at and associate director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics and chair of the APA Committee on Ethics. She previously served as a member of the ACLP Standards and Ethics Subcommittee and is co-chair of the ACLP Bioethics SIG.
Dr. Brendel highlighted the importance of her career in C-L psychiatry to her work in ethics: “From my very early days as a C-L psychiatrist, our service received consult requests raising extremely challenging and critically important considerations that arose in the hospital. The experience of identifying core issues at the interface of ethics, medicine, psychiatry, and law both sparked my curiosity and fuelled my learning and experience.”
Psychiatrist Jeremy Lazarus, MD, a former AMA president, told Psychiatric News: “The council is one of the chief pillars of the AMA and has been since the organization was first formed in 1847. The development of an ethical code of conduct is one of the keys, along with education, to what makes medicine a self-regulating profession.”
In her acceptance speech on the floor of the AMA House of Delegates, Dr. Brendel also spoke about the importance of ethics within medicine. “Our ethics are the backbone of our professional integrity, and, at this critical time of unprecedented advances and diversity in biomedicine and society, our AMA must navigate a course forward that is both faithful to the core values of medicine and inclusive of progress and possibility,” she said.
Dr. Brendel also spoke of her experience at the AMA during which she had “seen and experienced the ability of our great profession to overcome deep, personal, and political differences to advocate for the advancement of medicine, the well-being of our patients, and the promotion of public health more broadly.”
Outgoing CEJA chair, James Sabin, MD—a long-time friend and colleague of Dr. Brendel—told Psychiatric News: “There couldn’t be a better appointment to CEJA than Becca Brendel. Becca has deep knowledge of clinical practice, ethics, and medical law. She has an excellent understanding of how organizations work, and an exceptional ability to move between ethical deliberation and practical action. She’s a great colleague and member of a team.”