Margot Eves ’06, Ethicist and Educator
Eves: “In clinical ethics we conduct moral analysis, and we help people prioritize values that are potentially in conflict or inconsistent."
“You need skills in mediation and diplomacy. And a lot of moral courage,” said Margot Eves ’06, describing her role as both practitioner and educator at the Center for Ethics, Humanities and Spiritual Care at the Cleveland Clinic Health System in Ohio. In her role as a clinical ethicist, Eves helps patients and families address the myriad complex ethics issues that arise as they consider healthcare treatment or end-of-life options. As a teacher in the Clinical Ethics Immersion Program, Eves imparts those skills to physicians, caseworkers and hospital administrators nationwide through a multi-week course combining classwork and immersion in the clinical setting. She received the “Teacher of the Year” Award in 2014.
For the past several months, Eves has applied her teaching expertise nationwide, presenting at bioethics and health law conferences where she discusses specific ethics issues as well as exploring broader programmatic considerations, which she also studies extensively. At the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics conference in early June, she and a panel of colleagues – like herself, alumni of the Cleveland Fellowship in Advanced Bioethics – presented “Lost in the Law: Where's the Patient?,” with each speaker reviewing an actual case.
“Our panel focused on the instances where the laws and frameworks, while they may be designed to help or protect patients, actually inhibit the ethically optimal course of action,” Eves explained. Her segment of the discussion was entitled, “A Conflict of Laws: Advanced Directives across State Lines.” In May, Eves presented at the International Conference on Clinical Ethics Consultation in New York, her talk entitled, “Systemizing and Improving Ethics Consultation Services within Recently Formed Hospital Systems.”
Eves came to Seton Hall Law with advanced degrees, several years of experience in patient care and most important, a lifelong interest in healthcare. After earning her M.A. in Health Advocacy at Sarah Lawrence, she joined New York-Presbyterian Hospital as a patient advocate. “I covered four out of the five ICUs,” she explained. “I had relationships with patients' families when they were making difficult decisions. The families would ask me to sit in on ethics consultations and in meetings with the ethics consultant because they knew me. I thought it was really interesting and a good fit.”
She was attending a certificate course in bioethics, led by then-director Nancy Neveloff Dubler at Montefiore Medical Center, when she decided to apply to law school. Encouraged by her mentors, Eves chose Seton Hall for its proximity to her job and for the Health Law concentration. New York-Presbyterian shaped her work schedule so she could attend classes in the daytime and be on-call for patients in the evening.
She credits Professor John Jacobi with her next, pivotal career step: “It was graduation day and the school was packed. Professor Jacobi found me and said, ‘I was looking for you. You need to find a fellowship in health policy or ethics.’” Professor Jacobi supported her during the search, providing advice and recommendation letters. She was one of the inaugural Fellows in Advanced Bioethics at the Cleveland Clinic and soon after, pursued an additional Fellowship at Memorial Medical Center.
As a practitioner with an ever-growing slate of consults, Eves soon realized it was time to create an educational program to disseminate an understanding of the clinical practice of bioethics and instill a focus on essential quality standards. This thinking ultimately led to the founding of the Clinical Ethics Immersion Program, which capitalizes on the expertise of her colleagues in the Department of Bioethics and the unique culture of the Cleveland Clinic. The program welcomes practitioners and healthcare professionals nationwide representing a diversity of disciplines throughout any given hospital system.
“The future of healthcare is truly interdisciplinary,” Eves noted. “It is about making sure that we as a team respect each other and communicate well so that we can provide excellent care for patients. We need the work of the academics. We need the thinkers, the law professors, the philosophers, the bioethics department academics. We need their work because it helps influence us. The clinical ethicists are the ones that have to help clinicians determine how to best apply that thinking.”
She appreciates the complexity of any healthcare system in which ethical decisions are being made. “Hospitals are very social places, with layers upon layers of interpersonal dynamics,” she said, “Knowing that absolutely influences my ability to have empathy for the people who stand in all of those positions.”
And it is in the face of this complexity that Eves most values her law degree. “What I bring from my legal education is the ability to solicit and really understand the validity of multiple perspectives, as well as my analytical skills,” she said. “In clinical ethics we conduct moral analysis, and we help people prioritize values that are potentially in conflict or inconsistent. You have to be able to analyze.”
Learn more about the Clinical Ethics Immersion Program at www.clevelandclinic.org/CLEIP.