Friday, January 14, 2011

Christian Group Says University Is Forcing Nursing Students to Participate in Abortions

A Christian legal group filed a civil rights complaint Tuesday against a Tennessee, alleging that the school’s nursing program violates federal law by requiring applicants to participate in abortion procedures.

Vanderbilt University has denied the claim, but the Alliance Defense Fund claims that the school’s nursing-residency application materials violate national laws that prohibit schools receiving federal funds from requiring someone to perform or assist in abortions.

According to ADF, the school requires applicants to sign an acknowledgment, stating: “I am aware that I may be providing nursing care for women who are having” procedures, including terminations of pregnancy.

“It is important that you are aware of this aspect of care and give careful consideration to your ability to provide compassionate care to women in these situations,” the documents state. “If you feel you cannot provide care to women during this type of event, we encourage you to apply to a different track of the Nurse Residency Program to explore opportunities that may best fit your skills and career goals.”

The ADF complaint, filed on behalf of an unnamed Mississippi woman, was submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights. According to HHS, Vanderbilt received $313.6 million in federal funding during fiscal year 2008.

“Christians and other pro-life members of the medical community shouldn’t be forced to participate in abortions to pursue their profession,” Matt Bowman, legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said in a news release.


British teacher fired for taking two boys sledging wins fight to save his career

A teacher who was sacked after letting pupils ride a sledge to demonstrate its design properties escaped being struck off yesterday, in a ­‘victory for common sense’.

Design and technology head Richard Tremelling, 37, took his class of 15-year-old GCSE ­students on to slopes at the back of their school during the morning break to test his 30-year-old sledge, which he called a ‘design classic’. A disciplinary hearing was told that he allowed two boys in the class to go on the sledge after checking that the two slopes were safe for the exercise.

But although neither pupil suffered any injury during the ten-minute session – and neither they nor their parents complained – Mr Tremelling was sacked from his £40,000-a-year post. The school ruled the married father of three had breached its health and safety policy, which required a written risk assessment and pupils to be wearing appropriate protective clothing and headgear.

Yesterday, Mr Tremelling’s two-year ordeal ended with just a reprimand from the General Teaching Council for Wales after a two-day ­disciplinary hearing that generated 800 pages of paperwork.

The reprimand will stay on his record for two years, but does not bar him from teaching. After the Cardiff hearing Mr Tremelling told of his ‘sadness’ that his decision to extend a lesson that had gone ‘fantastically well’ resulted in two years of investigations, an appeal against dismissal and a disciplinary hearing.

The teacher, who has 12 years’ experience, said he hoped his treatment would not deter others from acting in a similar fashion in future, ‘where it was safe to do so’.

Mr Tremelling’s union representative, the NASUWT’s Colin Adkins, said his dismissal from Cefn Hengoed Community School in Swansea in June 2009 was ‘totally unjustified’ and like ‘using a sledgehammer to crack a nut’. In a swipe at the ‘obsession’ with health and safety, Mr Adkins said: ‘Teachers are not making decisions based on what’s best for the pupils, but what is best for them. They are too mindful of what can happen if things go wrong, even in situations where the risk could be judged as negligible.’

Mr Tremelling, who lives in the city, said after the case that the GCSE syllabus at the time of the incident in February 2009 ‘made it clear students should have the opportunity to evaluate and test existing products’, and it was in that context that he used the sledge at a time when there was about three inches of snow on the ground. ‘During the actions I took I made sure the safety of the pupils was ­paramount,’ he said.

Mr Tremelling, also an officer in the Territorial Army, has been unable to find teaching employment since, but wants to return to the profession.

Allegations relating to health and safety breaches cited by the school when it sacked Mr Tremelling were not upheld by the GTCW yesterday. But he was found guilty of unacceptable professional misconduct after he admitted failing to act on an instruction days earlier from the headmistress, Sue Hollister, not to allow children on to the snowy slopes. The GTCW panel also found that Mr Tremelling had ‘initially denied’ the sledging incident when questioned by the head, who was tipped off by another teacher.

A spokesman for Cefn Hengoed Community School stood by its decision to sack Mr Tremelling.

Rex Phillips, NASUWT Wales Organiser, said: ‘The outcome of today’s hearing demonstrates that employers are far too ready to sack teachers who have acted in good faith. This is a ­victory for common sense.’


Australia: Medical training in critical condition

By Professor Bruce Robinson, dean of the Medical School at the University of Sydney. He fears a shortage of internship places similar to what has been seen in Britain and elsewhere. He offers some solutions

In my office recently I saw a patient with a large pituitary tumour. It was causing multiple symptoms, including partial blindness. The patient didn't require surgery; his condition can be managed with medication and he will be cared for entirely as an outpatient.

Consequently, although young doctors in training - interns, residents and specialists-in-training - could have learnt much from this person and his condition, it is unlikely they will cross paths with him.

This is not an isolated case. During my 30 years of practice, hospitals have become places where only acutely sick people and those requiring elective surgery are admitted. This represents a small fraction of the work of clinicians in 2011, much of which deals with chronic illness.

Clinical training programs for young doctors, though, have changed little in the past three decades. While opportunities have increased for students and young doctors to undertake some of their training in general practices, they rarely spend time in specialist rooms. Nor in private hospitals or health centres, such as Aboriginal Medical Services. Nor do they benefit from the brilliant training opportunities available internationally, particularly in Asia and the Pacific.

Postgraduate medical training in Australia generally consists of a one-year internship and one or two years of residency. Graduates cannot be registered to practise without completing an internship. To become a specialist generally requires between five and seven years' further training either in a hospital or in general practice, depending on the specialty.

The theme that has underpinned most of the clinical training of young Australian doctors is "only public hospitals and only in Australia". The result: not only are we unnecessarily placing additional pressures on the already struggling public hospital system, but trainee medical staff are missing many important lessons in patient care. This is to our detriment.

The Herald recently reported on the predicament of international medical students in the invidious position of being able to complete their medical degrees but unable to secure internships. Training certainly does not stop after internship; further training is required for all young doctors to become proficient, and there are inadequate places to accommodate future requirements.

So far the state has fortunately been able to provide intern positions for all who require them. All graduates from last year were offered places and in NSW we understand there will be sufficient positions for those who complete their studies this year.

But if it ever comes to the point where medical graduates are denied the opportunity to work as doctors because governments have not provided sufficient training places, it would be both a disaster for the individuals and a poor reflection on the state and federal governments who fund and manage health workforce training.

We have a critical shortage of medical practitioners. Australia spends millions advertising internationally for doctors. Denying work opportunities to smart, well trained and motivated medical graduates from our own universities when we need doctors defies reasonable sense.

Governments and their agencies responsible for ensuring adequate numbers of health professionals need to improve their performance.

A shortage of internship places looms and new positions must be provided. Unless the number of specialist training positions increases significantly, a similar shortage is inevitable. But it is not simply a question of numbers.

Broadening the training opportunities for young clinicians will, ultimately, improve the quality of our medical workforce. We know the solutions. Instead of relying on big city hospitals, we could have more specialty training positions in country hospitals. We could have more young doctors learning in specialist rooms, and we could place these doctors overseas where they would be exposed to different ways of preventing and managing illness and allocating resources. All these non-traditional settings - that is, non-Australian public hospitals - offer rich opportunities for gaining one ingredient that contributes to becoming a good doctor: experience.


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