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Dr. Natalie Bandrauk

Discipline of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Natalie Bandrauk
Dr. Natalie Bandrauk

Dr. Natalie Bandrauk
Research interests

Dr. Natalie Bandrauk has an unusual combination of expertise and interests. An internal medicine specialist with expertise in intensive care, she also has a master's degree in medical ethics. Her interest in medical ethics grew directly out of her work in intensive care. She said the principles involved are patient autonomy, professional integrity, and society's vision of justice. "And it's not as simple as those three principles ? it comes down to something particular about any case that makes one of these weigh a little more than the others issues. As one of my professors always said, ?the devil is in the details.' I spent a lot of time thinking about this because in my intensive care training I saw very opposing approaches to conflicts at the end of life, sometimes resulting in explosive confrontations at the bedside which aren't helping people cope."

Dr. Bandrauk felt that her medical education did not provide good guidance on how to deal with end-of-life issues, guidance in providing help to patients that is cost-effective but also in their best interests. So she undertook a master's in ethics looking at futility issues in intensive care, and now feels that she has a better grasp of the issues involved. "I don't have all the answers, but ethics is always a forum. It's not about the answer, it's about the process. My take on it is you have to have really specific goals when you are implementing treatment ? to be alive in the Intensive Care Unit on five machines is not the reason those tools were invented. They are meant to be a bridge for the patient to be able to live their life and contribute to their family and society as before. The use of these tools should be tempered by that sort of a goal and not just life for life's sake."

Background and experience
Dr. Bandrauk earned her medical degree at McGill University and studied internal medicine and critical care at McGill as well as undertaking further training at the Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. She also spent some time in surgical intensive care in Paris. She joined the faculty at McGill in 1998 and met her future husband, Dr. Roger Avery, a Newfoundlander who was doing postgraduate training in neurosurgery.

One of the attractions of taking a faculty position at Memorial for Dr. Bandrauk was the chance to be involved in the growing medical ethics, humanities and law program. At the moment, Dr. Bandrauk is practicing medicine and critical care and will be teaching medicine and ethics to residents and clerks. She is located at St. Clare's hospital.

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