Physician Responds to Ethics Questions

By · Monday, August 31st, 2009

 Derrick is a graduate of the University of Southern California and the USC Medical School.  As a physician, no one would expect Derrick to serve time in prison, but I met him in the library at Taft Camp.  I told Derrik about the questions Professor Schrenkler put together to help undergraduate business students understand ethics.  Derrick accepted her questionnaire and submitted his responses below:

Ethical Development:

1. Do you feel you had/have a good understanding of your core values? How did those core values guide your decisions while on the job? 

As a physician, my core values are to cure when I can, to otherwise relieve functional deficits, and to first of all do no harm guided my conduct while on the job.

2. What was the most important aspect of a career in business for you? (bottom line, wealth, challenge, etc…) What motivated you the most while working for your company?

 The most important aspects of a medical practice for me was both patient satisfaction, personal lifestyle/comfort and profitability.

3. Who do you think is responsible for the ethics of a company? 

I think a company should establish broad and general ethical standards for its directors, officers and employees. I believe each individual is responsible for ethical conduct.

Ethical Decision Making:

4. Did you have a written code of ethics at your company? If so, did  you base your decisions around those codes?

 I did not have a written code of ethics at my company.

5. Did you believe that your decisions followed your particular company’s core mission, vision, and values? Explain.

 I believe my business decisions followed my company’s core mission, vision and values (see #1 above).

6. Did you think you should have been held to a higher ethical standard, given that you were in a position of great power? Explain.

 I think licensed and certified experts should be held to a higher ethical standard because they are in positions of greater power. Ethical conduct and its culture thereof should flow from the top to the bottom.

7. Do you feel your employees were equipped to recognize and resolve ethical dilemmas? Explain.

My employees initiated and propagated the unethical conduct in a clandestine manner. Although they should have known better, greed seems to have clouded their judgment.

Corporate Environment:

8. Please explain the corporate culture within your company during your involvement.

During my involvement, the corporate culture within my company emphasized patient satisfaction, mutual respect and profitability.

9. Is it possible to have a very aggressive corporate culture, yet foster an ethical environment?

Although it is possible to have a very aggressive corporate culture and to simultaneously foster an ethical environment, aggressive cultures ten to trample ethical boundaries.

Reflection / Advice / Future:

10. If you could choose to redo anything, what would it be?

If I could choose to redo things, I would avoid employment of a management company until I have completed a thorough background investigation of the people involved.

11. Do you think anything good came out of this?

As a result of my period of incarceration, I developed a high level of skill in the craft of screenplay writing. Furthermore, I have been able to identify characteristics in other people to avoid.

12. What is your biggest regret?

My biggest regret is that I did not focus all my attention on a medical sub-specialty, so that I would have a higher rank in the field of medicine.

13. Do you plan on taking on the business world once again when you are released? If so, do you think you will encounter any roadblocks getting back into the business world? Explain.

I plan to rekindle my career in medicine upon release. I am positive that my conviction on charges of aiding and abetting health insurance fraud will cause me to encounter roadblocks. The federal government has already notified me that I am barred from billing state or federal heath insurance programs. I surrendered my medical license in August 2007, and I will be able to apply for its reinstatement after August 2009, but this process can take 3-6 months of professional rehabilitation.

14. What advice would you give to a business student about to embark on their chosen career path?

I advise any student about to embark on a chosen career path to diligently develop a strong foundation and persevere in building on that foundation over time. Don’t rush!

15. How do you feel about a business class questioning you on your ethics?

I believe that ethics play a very important role in all businesses, so Business Ethics classes should be required curriculum.

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