UVM Med School will grant education credits to staff attending the Right to Life Conference

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  • Sally Pollak © ️ Seven days
  • Entrance to the Faculty of Medicine

The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont offers continuing education credits to physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals who attend sessions at an upcoming Vermont Right to Life Committee conference.

Credit-eligible workshops at the Oct. 2 conference include “The Case Against Proposition 5,” “The Impact of Abortion on Women’s Mental Health” and “Abortion Survivors: Not One. myth ”.

Access to abortion has come under attack elsewhere in the country, as an effort to codify a woman’s right to choose progresses in Vermont. Proposition 5, which Vermonters could vote on in November 2022, would amend the Vermont Constitution to declare that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is essential to the freedom and dignity to determine one’s own life course. life”.

The Faculty of Medicine does not organize or sponsor the conference and it is not an UVM affiliate event. But the medical school’s Office of Continuing and Interprofessional Medical Education (CMIE) has approved continuing education credits. Continuing education is a requirement for healthcare professionals, according to John King, a family physician and associate dean of the medical school that oversees the CMIE office.

King said the medical school adheres to national guidelines for determining what is and what is not suitable for continuing education accreditation. It’s not uncommon for credits to be offered for subjects that aren’t directly related or focused on medical science, King said. He cited as examples teamwork, advocating for improvements in the health system and professional communication.

Asked about the Proposition 5 session, which will be chaired by a law professor, and its relevance to medical education, King replied, “I would say we frequently have lawyers talking to us about a lot of treatment-related things. patients. We are in a legalized environment.

He went on to say, “I understand this is a very sensitive subject. It is not our mission to endorse a particular point of view. We would like all perspectives to be presented, and it is our job to support a diversity of beliefs, thoughts and philosophies.

Vermont Senate Pro Tempore President Becca Balint (D-Windham) learned from Seven days regarding the medical school’s decision to give credit for attending the Right to Life conference sessions. Looking at the list of accredited workshops, Balint commented, “Sessions are really something.

“The session titles make me think about whether this is really continuing education, when you have a session called ‘The Case Against Proposition 5’,” Balint said. “It’s a political discussion. This is not a discussion for health professionals doing their job.

“The whole push we’ve had in the legislature to protect women’s reproductive rights is to not interfere with the relationship between a woman and her doctor,” Balint continued. “It’s an interesting thing to ponder when you have these sessions here that clearly aren’t rooted in a doctor-provider relationship. It’s about a doctor – he or she – getting into a political conversation. It makes me very uncomfortable. ”

Speaking on behalf of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Vermont Medical Center, Ira Bernstein, physician and chair of the department, said access to abortion in the Vermont would not be affected if practitioners in the area attended the Right to Life conference.

“We have no interest or plan to change our current practice in supporting women’s reproductive rights,” Bernstein wrote in an email to Seven days. “More broadly, I don’t think this conference will change the current support for reproductive rights in Vermont.”

Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of the Vermont Right to Life Committee, said Proposition 5 will be the focus of the October conference – as well as the group’s work for next year.

She believes it is important for medical providers in Vermont to have “protection of conscience” that would prevent them from participating in medical procedures they object to.

“Nurses and doctors need to know the impact of abortion on women,” Beerworth said. “They need to know how Proposition 5 will impact the state. “
Beerworth believes most of the medical professionals attending the conference “will be pro-life.”

In an email to Seven daysEileen Sullivan, communications director for the Vermont chapter of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said the organization was surprised that UVM’s medical school was granting continuing education credits to conference attendees.

“The Vermont Right to Life Committee is focused on banning abortion in all its forms and using inaccurate information to shame patients and health care providers,” Sullivan wrote. “It is difficult to imagine circumstances where the messages of this conference can be considered legitimate clinical training. ”

In recent years, the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Continuing and Interprofessional Medical Education has provided continuing education credit for attending conferences run by many external groups. They include Burlington Community Health Centers, the MDI Biological Laboratory, the Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine, the Vermont Department of Health, the Vermont Psychiatric Association and Women in Medicine, according to the bureau.


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