Ethics Grand Rounds: Friday Septmeber 24 12:00 - 1:30 PM CST | Zoom | Free | Open to the Public | RSVP Requested

Dr. John Song’s Vision for Health Equity: Dignity in Death and Dying While in Prison

Headshot of Susan O'Conner-Von
Susan O'Conner-Von, PhD, RN
Headshot of Pat Berry
Patricia Berry PhD, CNP, GNP-BC, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN


At the heart of bioethics lies the pursuit of a compassionate and just society. Dr. John Song embodied this heartfelt approach as a bioethicist and an advocate for health equity for the homeless, individuals with HIV/AIDs, and people in prison. This special Ethics Grand Rounds honored Dr. Song's legacy and shared the findings of his final research project, "Advance Care Planning and Goals of Care for Unrepresented Older Prisoners," funded by the Alex and Rita Hillman Foundation and passed on to his colleague Susan O'Conner-Von to complete after his passing in March 2019. The project focused on supporting prisoners’ autonomy and access to advance care planning, which is essential to allowing incarcerated individuals the right to die with dignity in an environment typified by lack of choice and control. O'Conner-Von, along with co-researcher Patricia Berry, celebrated John's vision for health equity by sharing their research findings.

This was an event of the Office of Academic Clinical Affairs (OACA) hosted by the Center for Bioethics and co-sponsored by the following U of MN units: The Robina Institute of Criminal Law & Criminal Justice, The Program in Health Disparities Research, the Medical School, and the School of Nursing.


Susan O'Conner-Von, PhD, RN, is a Professor in the School of Nursing and the Director of Graduate Studies for the Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing. The focus of Dr. O’Conner-Von’s teaching, research and service is pain and palliative care. She has developed and taught palliative care courses with a focus on advance care planning and spiritual care. Dr. O’Conner Von is an AACN/ City of Hope ELNEC Train-the-Trainer in Pediatric and Adult Palliative Care. In addition, Dr. O’Conner-Von was a hospice volunteer for older adults for 16 years.

Patricia Berry PhD, CNP, GNP-BC, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN, is formerly Professor at Oregon Health and Science University Director of the OHSU Interprofessional Hartford Center of Gerontological Excellence and Associate Professor at the University of Utah College of Nursing. The birth of their first grandchild beckoned her back to the Midwest and she is presently adjunct professor at the University of Utah College of Nursing and palliative care nurse practitioner with Livio Health. Pat’s research is on palliative and end-of-life care with a focus on marginalized populations including maltreated children as adult caregivers and end of life care in prison, including advance care planning. She holds certification as an advanced practice palliative care nurse and as a gerontological nurse practitioner, and is a Fellow in Palliative Care Nursing and the American Academy of Nursing.