Challenging next generation physicians to learn how to think about medical humanities and bioethics is what drives one of the newest faculty members at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine.

Bioethicist joins Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
An image of Abe Brummett
Abram Brummett, Ph.D., with his host brothers from the time period where he taught at The College of Micronesia, Kosrae Micronesia.

Challenging next generation physicians to learn how to think about medical humanities and bioethics is what drives one of the newest faculty members at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine.

Abram Brummett, Ph.D., joined OUWB earlier this year as an assistant professor in the Department of Foundational Medical Studies.

In the role, Brummett primarily teaches medical humanities and clinical bioethics to first- and second-year medical students, while also serving on the school’s scholarship and curriculum committees.

Brummett said he knew OUWB was where he wanted to be when he first visited the school a year ago.

“There are times when you go somewhere for a job interview and meet a lot of the staff and students and it just feels like a place you want to be — that was definitely the feeling I had after I came to OUWB,” he said.

Brummett said there were other factors in his decision to come to OUWB as well, including the expansive bioethics curriculum, and the diversity of the students, staff, and faculty, along with the relatively young age of the school.

“Medical humanities and bioethics were really baked into OUWB’s curriculum from the very start so there’s not an uphill battle to get time with the students to do bioethics,” he said. “We’re with the students most weeks for an hour-and-a-half in their first and second years.”

‘The most private aspects of human life’

Brummett earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy/Sociology from Murray State University and two master’s degrees — one in history from Murray State, and another in Philosophy from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Additionally, Brummett earned a Ph.D. in Health Care Ethics from Saint Louis University.

He has taught at The College of Micronesia, Kosrae Micronesia, the University of Missouri, Saint Louis University, and most recently at Albany Medical College in Albany, New York.

His clinical ethics experience includes, among other things, serving as a clinical ethics fellow at the Alden March Bioethics Institute, and completing a practicum with the clinical ethics center at Memorial Medical Hospital in Springfield, Illinois.

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Brummett also has authored 11 peer-reviewed publications, four peer-reviewed case/commentaries, and three editor-reviewed commentaries.

He said philosophy and medical ethics go hand-in-hand.

“What makes medicine so philosophically interesting is that it inevitably interacts with some of the most private aspects of human life…aspects around birth, the raising of children, human sexuality, the nature of suffering, the nature of death, and so on,” he said.

In teaching such material, Brummett said students are presented an “ethical framework to think through a lot of the morally challenging and uncertain situations that they’re going to regularly find themselves in.”

In just one example, students are presented with a hypothetical situation in which they have one ventilator and four patients with COVID-19 who need it.

“We talk about what sorts of moral principles have been proposed for how we ought to allocate that ventilator and what standards we’ve settled on as a broader bioethics and medical community,” he said.

When he’s not working, Brummett said he enjoys participating in Civil War reenactments. Last year, he said, he participated in a reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg, which he called “a big dream of mine.”

Additionally, Brummett said he is heavily into practicing Jiu Jitsu (he is a blue belt) and enjoys fishing and spending time with his dog, Lily.

Building a program

Brummett said he’s especially looking forward to working with OUWB colleague, Jason Wasserman, Ph.D., and Mark Navin, Ph.D., professor of Philosophy at Oakland University, to bring more attention to OUWB. He said he expects that will happen as the team continually produces quality publications, and works toward developing a clinical ethics program.

Also, Brummett said he would like to see the trio work more closely with the Beaumont Health system on clinical ethics consultations.

“That’s really good for our students because it allows us to come into the classroom and say ‘Hey, here’s something that happened last week. Here’s an actual case we consulted on,’” he said. “It’s also good for our research because it gives us even more to write about.”

Having started during the COVID-19 pandemic, Brummett said there’s one other thing to which he’s especially looking forward.

“I’ve really enjoyed working at OUWB, and I think that once we get back on campus, I’ll enjoy it even more,” he said.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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