Katherine Brown-Saltzman is an assistant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Nursing and the co-director of the university’s Health System Ethics Center, which she co-founded. Before joining a Zócalo/UCLA panel discussion on end-of-life care—“Does Medicine Know How to Approach Death?”—she talked in the Zócalo green room about her garden, Scrabble, and how easy it is to brush ethical questions aside.
If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, were would you like to be?
My granddaughter’s bedroom.
You went to school in two cold places: Wisconsin and Massachusetts. When you first arrived in California, did you spend all your time basking in the sun?
I’m very partial to seasons, so it’s actually quite hard for me to have constant sun. That said, I’m not sure I have the endurance to bear Wisconsin winters anymore.
Where do you like to spend afternoons in Los Angeles?
My garden. I have a wonderful one.
Why is there a need for ethics centers?
Ethics is extraordinarily hard work. In our busy lives, it’s very easy to brush it aside, but if you’re going to have a true conversation about ethics, you have to dig deep and consider all different perspectives.
What’s your favorite board game?
If not nursing, what would you be doing professionally?
Writing. I kind of do it anyway. I write poetry.
When was the last time you sang in front of people?
What’s one thing people don’t understand about nurses?
I don’t think they always understand how important it is—how, literally, their lives are in the hands of nurses.
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?
I love breakfast. I think it’s important.