Andria Bianchi, Applied Philosophy PhD

Andria Bianchi, Applied Philosophy PhD

BY: Andria Bianchi

PRINT IMRPIMER

 

I am going into year three of a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Waterloo. The work I am presently doing on the question of consent and the lives of older people with dementia crosses the traditional boundaries between academic philosophy and worldly, practical thinking—what the Greeks called phronesis.

I completed a BA at Glendon College, York University. I pursued my MA in Philosophy at Wilfrid Laurier University with the intention of going on to do a PhD, but after finding out about the job situation in academia, I decided to take a different path. I had already worked for one of the banks as a summer student, so I sought and succeeded in getting a job in the financial sector, working my way up over two years from legal assistant to a position in management in Procurement. There, I honed my administrative and organizational skills and also fostered my abilities as a negotiator.

But experience in the business world, especially my sense of the potential ethical concerns attendant on a career in business, brought me back to serious thinking about my original life ambition, which was a professional career in Philosophy. I surveyed the different doctoral programs and ended up choosing the University of Waterloo after I spoke to a student there who told me about the program’s openness to applied academic work.

In the second year of my PhD, I undertook a research project in bioethics. (Doctoral students in Waterloo’s philosophy department don’t write comprehensive exams in order to advance to candidacy; instead, they have to complete two area concentration assignments.) My second research area explored how persons with dementia can and ought to contribute to their care and treatment decisions even if they cannot provide informed consent.  

In addition to completing scholarly work on consent and dementia, I completed a placement at a healthcare organization that cares for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of senile dementia. This placement opportunity was a part of the University of Waterloo’s new Applied Philosophy PhD pilot project. At the healthcare organization, I interviewed a variety of clinicians to determine whether it is important for persons with dementia to contribute to their care and treatment decisions, and if so, how they are enabled to do so. The clinicians recognized that they are, at times,  part of the problem since the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for the basic needs of patients sometimes makes it challenging to recognize and care for them as full human beings. Because of this, the ability of persons with dementia to contribute to their care and treatment decisions is sometimes put to the side. However, this is something that clinicians want to work on and throughout the course of the interviews they explored numerous ways for persons with dementia to be empowered to contribute to their care decisions, as motivated by my questions which were based on the literature.  For instance, trying to make space to recognize for the feelings, thoughts, and reactions—even facial expressions—in the process of making care and treatment decisions are all important ways of enabling persons with dementia to contribute.

I am writing a public report based on my internship work regarding the topic of consent and persons with dementia. The report will be informed by the scholarly work I completed on consent and dementia and grounded in the time I  spent  and the conversations I conducted during my placement. The report will be a work of practical philosophy. By completing this innovative philosophical work, alongside my placement, I feel prepared for either a position in academia, if job prospects improve,  or a fulfilling career outside the academy.  

 

I am going into year three of a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Waterloo. The work I am presently doing on the question of consent and the lives of older people with dementia crosses the traditional boundaries between academic philosophy and worldly, practical thinking—what the Greeks called phronesis.

I completed a BA at Glendon College, York University. I pursued my MA in Philosophy at Wilfrid Laurier University with the intention of going on to do a PhD, but after finding out about the job situation in academia, I decided to take a different path. I had already worked for one of the banks as a summer student, so I sought and succeeded in getting a job in the financial sector, working my way up over two years from legal assistant to a position in management in Procurement. There, I honed my administrative and organizational skills and also fostered my abilities as a negotiator.

But experience in the business world, especially my sense of the potential ethical concerns attendant on a career in business, brought me back to serious thinking about my original life ambition, which was a professional career in Philosophy. I surveyed the different doctoral programs and ended up choosing the University of Waterloo after I spoke to a student there who told me about the program’s openness to applied academic work.

In the second year of my PhD, I undertook a research project in bioethics. (Doctoral students in Waterloo’s philosophy department don’t write comprehensive exams in order to advance to candidacy; instead, they have to complete two area concentration assignments.) My second research area explored how persons with dementia can and ought to contribute to their care and treatment decisions even if they cannot provide informed consent.  

In addition to completing scholarly work on consent and dementia, I completed a placement at a healthcare organization that cares for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of senile dementia. This placement opportunity was a part of the University of Waterloo’s new Applied Philosophy PhD pilot project. At the healthcare organization, I interviewed a variety of clinicians to determine whether it is important for persons with dementia to contribute to their care and treatment decisions, and if so, how they are enabled to do so. The clinicians recognized that they are, at times,  part of the problem since the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for the basic needs of patients sometimes makes it challenging to recognize and care for them as full human beings. Because of this, the ability of persons with dementia to contribute to their care and treatment decisions is sometimes put to the side. However, this is something that clinicians want to work on and throughout the course of the interviews they explored numerous ways for persons with dementia to be empowered to contribute to their care decisions, as motivated by my questions which were based on the literature.  For instance, trying to make space to recognize for the feelings, thoughts, and reactions—even facial expressions—in the process of making care and treatment decisions are all important ways of enabling persons with dementia to contribute.

I am writing a public report based on my internship work regarding the topic of consent and persons with dementia. The report will be informed by the scholarly work I completed on consent and dementia and grounded in the time I  spent  and the conversations I conducted during my placement. The report will be a work of practical philosophy. By completing this innovative philosophical work, alongside my placement, I feel prepared for either a position in academia, if job prospects improve,  or a fulfilling career outside the academy.  

Discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

OR AS GUEST

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Participer en tant qu’invité