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Dr. Leslie Whetstine Appointed to New Aultman Professorship in Bioethics

School News

August 27, 2019

Walsh University and Aultman Health Foundation have collaborated to establish a dual-appointment professorship in bioethics that recognizes the importance of the humanities in health care. Walsh Professor of Philosophy and nationally renowned bioethics expert Leslie Whetstine, Ph.D., has been named to the newly created Aultman Professorship in Bioethics to advise and promote ethical policies, procedures and decision-making in a clinical setting.

In her new role, Dr. Whetstine is the co-chair the Ethics Committee with chair Dr. Eyad Nashawati, provide case consultation, draft and review policy, provide medical education, work directly with the clinical teams and serve as an ethics resource for patients, families and clinicians at the hospitals for the Aultman Healthcare Delivery System.   

“Many of my students at Walsh are preparing for careers in health care, so I’ve always made it a priority to focus my course content as well as my scholarship on ethical issues in the clinical context. Ethical conflicts arise in health care routinely and may include decision making at the end of life, assessing the goals of treatment when the patient is not able to speak for him or herself and considering outcomes in the age of life support technologies,” said Dr. Whetstine. “Because of my experience in the classroom, I’m able to translate the theoretical into the practical when we talk about bedside issues. It is an important component to understand that medicine is not just about scientific facts. There are values at stake and moral considerations, and that is where this position really comes into play.”

Dr. Whetstine is chair of the Walsh University Institutional Review Board and is experienced in both academic and clinical issues in bioethics. She specializes in ethical issues in transplantation, the definition of death, end-of-life care and reproductive technologies. She also speaks at national and international conferences and has been interviewed by various media outlets including NPR, CNN, The Washington Postand the Wall Street Journal concerning contentious topics in ethics and medicine.

Dr. Whetstine’s most recent research focuses on gene editing, the determination of death and organ donation and the ethical dimensions of biohacking. This year, she presented her work at the 16th Annual Critical Care Conference Symposium in Manchester, England, as well as at the Eighth Annual Western Michigan Medical Humanities Conference in Michigan. Most recently, she was interviewed in the Canadian newspaper Le Devoir in April 2019 regarding the ethical implications of research aimed at reviving decapitated pigs’ brains and by the journal Medical Ethics Advisor regarding the United Network for Organ Sharing’s (UNOS) proposed policy changes in organ allocation.

Dr. Whetstine earned her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and master’s degree and doctorate in Healthcare Ethics from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. She joined the Walsh University faculty in 2007. Her courses include Bioethics, Philosophy of Medicine and Advanced Clinical Bioethics among others.

Aultman Health Foundation is a not-for-profit health care organization serving Stark and surrounding counties. The integrated health care system includes Aultman Hospital, Aultman Orrville Hospital, Aultman Alliance Community Hospital, the locally managed health insurance provider AultCare, The Aultman Foundation and Aultman College. With 1,032 beds, over 800 active physicians and a team of more than 7,000 employees, Aultman is Stark County's largest provider of health care services. For more information, visit www.aultman.org.