Student spotlight: Andy Kondrat
An interview by Lauren Dennis
Andy Kondrat is a current student in the Philosophy PhD program. Andy is currently working on his dissertation, entitled “Moral Distress and the Health Care Organization." He currently works as a bioethicist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
When did you first become interested in philosophy?
I first became interested in philosophy through my introductory class taught by Joe Westfall when I was a sophomore at Boston College. I was actually scared of philosophy; it was one of the last classes on the core curriculum that I took. Westfall showed me how challenging the topic is and how rewarding learning philosophy is when one meets that challenge. That class is still one of the hardest classes I have ever taken, and I thank Westfall for making the course challenging and engaging at the same time.
Describe your current work as a bioethicist. What types of projects are you working on and what do you enjoy most about the work?
At the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where we are fortunate enough to have an ethics department called the Donnelley Ethics Program. Through the Donnelley Ethics Program, we do a variety of different things: case consultations, patient evaluations, education for staff, presentations to clinicians and researchers, and more. Currently, I’m building educational programming to help staff become better prepared for patient discharges.
I enjoy the case consultations the most, because they offer opportunities to meet with clinicians and patients. In these case consultations, I am able to apply my philosophical background and training work in a real life context. It is a fun challenge to use my philosophical expertise in a way that non-philosophers will understand and find useful in their medical practice.
How have faculty and your graduate program here at Loyola helped you develop as a bioethicist?
There is no question that I wouldn’t have this job if it weren’t for the faculty at Loyola. I didn’t have any bioethical training before graduate school. Drs. Ozar, Parks, Waymack, and Wike helped pave the way for me academically. It was due to their recommendation that I was able to get a clinical ethics internship at Lutheran General Hospital with Dr. Clint Moore III, a Clinical Ethicist and Loyola graduate program alum.
Broadly speaking, the entire faculty trained me on how to think critically about a variety of topics. That ability to analyze many different issues in a variety of ways provides a solid foundation for me to do my job well.
Do you have a favorite article, book, or movie that you could recommend to those interested in bioethics?
Bioethics is a large field, ranging from abortion to end-of-life decisions; access to health care to stem cell research, and everything in between. This is fantastic because it means there is something to interest everyone. It also means that what interests me may be boring to someone else. I specialize in clinical ethics, and I recommend Eric Cassell’s The Nature of Suffering for a look into that world. But if you just open the newspaper to the “health” section, you’re bound to come across a bioethical issue worth mulling over.
Other than philosophy and bioethics, what are you passionate about?
I am passionate about the same things everyone should be passionate about: friends, family, good food, good music, and the Oakland A’s.