Gerardo Maradiaga, MA

Gerardo Maradiaga, MA

July 2014

As an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gerardo Maradiaga found himself invested in philosophy and captivated by ethics. Exposure to popular public cases like those of Dax Cowart and Terri Schiavo led Gerardo to delve deeper into the field of bioethics and see what else it had to offer. After much reading and conversation he soon realized just how pervasive the field truly was and knew he wanted to “do bioethics.” (Gerardo adds, “whatever ‘doing bioethics’ meant!”) It was by a stroke of luck, according to Gerardo, that he found out about the graduate program in bioethics at Wake Forest University. The program was new and Gerardo decided to take a chance and enroll, hoping that along the way the program would open up new opportunities and directions in his life.

Gerardo believes the program did just as he had hoped. Many personal and professional opportunities surfaced both inside and out of the structured classroom. Reflecting on his time in the MA program he is most struck by the learning opportunities outside the classroom, through interactions with fellow students and faculty; program-sponsored Tea Times; Center for Bioethics, Health & Society-sponsored talks with prominent bioethics scholars; student thesis presentations; and ASBH Annual Meeting trips with the program. These reflections are particularly powerful, as he had assumed his learning would take place within a traditional classroom setting and that most of what the field of bioethics had to offer centered on clinical and research ethics. The program shattered this notion by exposing Gerardo to all the field has to offer, both in scope and in perspective. Within research and clinical ethics, he was exposed to new topics: the ethical dimensions of innovative biobanking research; the advent of social media and the electronic medical record and their effects on the practice of medicine; and the arguments for and against the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Outside of the traditional concepts of research and clinical ethics, he found himself exposed to the value of narrative ethics, the power of reader’s theatre, and the need to expand our thinking to global bioethics issues. But, ultimately, perhaps the most vivid memories Gerardo has of the program revolve around the respectful and friendly collegiality among faculty and students, from collaborative projects to insightful conversations during our annual program picnic and holiday dinner!

Gerardo currently lives in Winston-Salem, NC and works as the Bioethics Project Coordinator at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (WFBMC). In this role he helps with the three main activities of WFBMC’s Clinical Ethics Committee, namely, clinical ethics consultation, education, and policy development. In addition to his role at the medical center he is also involved in various other initiatives and projects around Winston Salem, including an initiative to raise awareness of advance care planning among the local Hispanic population, an interprofessional education program at the SECU family house, and a course development project that allows him to teach clinical ethics seminars to first-year PA students in the WFU Physician Assistant Studies Program. In all these endeavors Gerardo’s bioethics degree has enhanced his work and infused him with the confidence needed to efficiently and effectively perform the necessary tasks. His degree in bioethics has enhanced his work by exposing him to both a foundation of bioethics knowledge and also different ways of thinking about difficult ethical dilemmas.

In his free time Gerardo enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend, Heather. Together they enjoy traveling and documenting life through the camera lens, something to which most alumni can attest! Gerardo may have acquired the title of program resident photographer, yet the life lessons he captured during the program couldn’t all be documented digitally. The valuable lessons Gerardo learned from program courses, such as Current Topics, shape his career and allow him to feel much more equipped as he helps develop policy, educate staff, and guide the policy into practice. Gerardo plans to take all the program has offered him and venture into a career as a Physician Assistant with the aim of practicing and continuing bioethics development through bioethics projects, initiatives, and education.