Published on April 1, 2015 by Katie Stripling  

Samford University’s Healthcare Ethics and Law Institute (HEAL) will focus on “Religion and Healthcare in a Diverse Society: The Role of Institutional and Individual Provider Conscience” during its annual conference Friday, April 17.

The conference will meet in Brock Forum of Dwight Beeson Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Continuing education hours are available in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and social work. Students can also earn convo credit by attending. 

Visiting speakers include Leonard J. Nelson, professor emeritus at Samford’s Cumberland School of Law; Ryan Nash, chair in medical ethics and professionalism and director of the Ohio State University Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities; H. Tristram Engelhardt, professor in Rice University’s Department of Philosophy; and Thomas S. Huddle, professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine. 

Following opening remarks from pharmacy school dean Michael A. Crouch, Nelson will present “Health Policy and Conscience Protection: Is There a Place for Religious People in Health Care Professions?” at 8:30 a.m. Nelson is an accomplished educator and author of numerous publications related to health-care law.

Repeatedly named to the “America’s Best Doctors List,” Nash, whose practice area is palliative care, will present “Reframing Conscientious Refusals in an Era of Competing Visions of Health, Medicine and Ethics” at 9:45 a.m. 

Engelhardt, who is also professor emeritus at Baylor College of Medicine and senior editor of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Christian Bioethics, will present “Taking Moral Diversity Seriously: The Implications for Bioethics” at 10:45 a.m. Engelhardt will also receive a Pellegrino Medal for his contributions to health-care ethics. The medal is named for Edmund D. Pellegrino, the first recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. Pellegrino often is called the "father of the American bioethics movement." 

Following lunch and the medal presentation, Huddle will present “Can Professional Practice Help in Adjudicating Professional Conscientious Objection?” Huddle is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a recipient of the Circle of Excellence Compassion Award from the UAB Health Services Foundation.  

The conference will conclude with a panel of HEAL fellows, including Huddle, Nelson, Birmingham neurologist Leon Dure, and Samford faculty members Wilton Bunch and Dennis Sansom. The panel will be moderated by pharmacy professor Amy Broeseker. 

The HEAL conference, sponsored by Samford's McWhorter School of Pharmacy, is designed to help Alabama institutional ethics committees of all levels with some of today's most pressing health-care ethics and law issues and problems. Registration is open to committee members, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, chaplains, administrators and others interested in ethical decision making in health care. 

Registration is $99 and space is limited. There is no cost for students to attend. Samford faculty, staff and students who wish to attend most or all of the conference should contact Ilaina Andrews at or 726-2820.  No registration is needed for those planning to attend individual sessions.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.