A former professor of mine, Dr. Bill Bicknell, gave a special lecture last week back at BUSPH. I was disappointed to not join in person, but the round up of the lecture featured on the BUSPH News Archive captured his spirit and thought on the ethics of public health practice:
“[Bicknell] warned the audience that while medical doctors can make mistakes that can lead to the deaths of handfuls of patients, public health practitioners can ‘make mistakes that kill even more people and with less accountability.’ “
I remember his words from our first day of Global Health Policy, which weren’t terribly far from the sentiments above. He worked to instill an ethical compass in each of us, focused on who our real clients were in the field of global health: the patients, mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, aunts, uncles and other who we would help provide access to affordable medical services through our work, not the donors, funders, or DC-based backstops who oftentimes would determine what we could or could not achieve.
Thank you, Prof. Bicknell. Your words still stick with me today.