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July 11, 2008
By Alix Cirac
Officials in the University’s new Division of Health Sciences have named ElizaBeth Beyer as the new chair of its Health Care Ethics (HCE) program.
Beyer, an assistant professor at the University and 27-year northern Nevada resident, served previously as coordinator of research and projects for the Nevada Center for Ethics and Health Policy, which administers the academic program.
“Ethics is the fabric of the world that we live in,” Beyer said. “All of us are impacted by health care ethics, if we are directly ill or if we need preventative care. Everybody makes health care choices, and how those choices are made is a huge issue.”
In a time when abortion and stem-cell research are hotter topics than ever, the state faces outbreaks of Hepatitis-C, and a man has, very publicly, been pregnant, Beyer’s experience and knowledge will be a great asset as the campus, the community and society consider and debate these topics. She was a nurse at both St. Mary’s and Renown regional medical centers in Reno. She later graduated from the former Nevada School of Law at its Old College facility on West Second Street and has practiced health care law for two decades. A rabbi, she also holds a healing and meditation circle in town.
The Health Care Ethics minor and graduate certificates have been offered since the fall of 2002 and spring of 2005, respectively, and the program has developed quickly. Students come from many educational backgrounds including nursing, public health, law, physical therapy, social work and pre-medicine.
“It’s exciting that we’re growing so quickly,” Beyer said. “These topics are provocative and challenging, and, thus, generate a lot of student interest.”
Students aren’t the only ones finding advantages in the program. Community members can also benefit through student and faculty outreach. Nevada is one of the first states in the nation to have a program that has spearheaded an online initiative for Advance Directives, which specifically explain patient care when individuals cannot give their own instructions. At NVlivingwill.com, people can fill out their living will (or Nevada Durable Power of Attorney), print the document, have it notarized, and then delivered to the Nevada Secretary of State’s office.
According to a recent study done by the program, only 22 percent of Nevadans have a living will and often they don’t have it handy when it’s most needed.
“We’ve worked closely with the Secretary of State’s office to create 24/7 online availability of Advance Directives,” Beyer said. “Anyone who goes into an emergency room will be able to have the staff type their name into a computer and say, ‘What does this person want?’“
In addition to helping people in the area make their wishes known to family, friends and medical staff, the program also reaches out to local medical facilities. Students run clinical rotations at hospices and Veterans Affairs health facilities, and faculty members sit on committees at local hospitals.
Craig Klugman, the program’s previous chair, moved to Texas earlier this year.