Bioethics Internship Seminar—Clinical Ethics

Bioethics Internship Seminar—Clinical Ethics: The Bioethics Program currently offers approximately ten undergraduate Clinical Ethics Internships each semester. This program typically places students in such clinical services as: Neonatal ICU, HIV/AIDS Clinic, Prenatal Genetics, Adolescent Medicine, Cancer Center, Chaplains’ Office, Emergency Medicine, Palliative Care, Teen Health, Renal and Liver Transplant, Surgical/Trauma/Burn ICU, Medical ICU, Neurancy Neurological ICU, and the Pediatric ICU. Each student is assigned a clinical mentor who is responsible for exposing the student to the practices and ethical problems of his/her field.
In addition to spending 3-4 hours per week in the clinical setting, each student concurrently enrolls in the Bioethics Internship Seminar (RELG 4023). The seminar is led by Mary Faith Marshall, Director of the Program in Biomedical Ethics at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, professor of bioethics, public health sciences, nursing and university faculty of law. The seminar focuses on topics that transcend the borders of the different internship placements, such as:  “Doing” ethics in a clinical setting; the patient/surrogate decision maker experience; moral understandings in the clinical setting, the sociology of the modern hospital and clinical training; and the pragmatics of ethics and moral distress case consultation. Each student is required to complete a certain amount of reading and do a research project focusing on a problem or issue presented during her/his internship. Students present the results of their work, usually focused on a case, to the full seminar. Mentors attend these sessions.
This course is designed to provide students with experience in discerning and analyzing ethical issues as they arise in particular clinical settings. Each student will spend one half-day each week in a clinic or other health-care-related setting (the same setting throughout the semester) under the mentorship of a health care professional. Seminar time will focus both on the role of the ethicist/participant observer and on the issues that commonly arise in health care; during the second half of the semester, students will give presentations related to their specific areas of observation. Students are expected to have some background knowledge of bioethics methods and common questions.

We are now accepting applications for Fall 2020. Entrance to this internship program is by application only. Because course enrollment is limited, with more applicants than can be accommodated, your acceptance in the course means that someone else has been denied access. Do not apply unless you are committed to taking the course. If you wish to apply, compose your application in an email and send it directly to Mary Faith Marshall at  and Carrie Gumm at with “Bioethics Internship Seminar” plus your last name in the subject line.  Due date for applications is generally a couple of weeks before registration opens.  We hope to finalize enrollment less than a week later so that you will know your status before registration begins.

Please include in your email application the following:
1) Name, e-mail, year, major/minor

Preference will be given to graduating 4th years who are minoring in bioethics, doing an interdisciplinary major, or who have done well in one or more upper level bioethics electives. It is rare for 3rd years to gain admission; such students need to present special circumstances.
2) What relevant courses (from which professors) have you taken to prepare you for this experience – e.g., in philosophical and/or religious ethics, political philosophy, medical anthropology, bioethics? List the grades that you received in these courses.

This course is run as a seminar, thus we look for applicants who can reliably make good contributions to discussion.
3) Why do you wish to take this course?  How do you see it fitting into your academic and/or career plans?

Preference will be given to students with an interest in pursuing some sort of health-related career — e.g., nursing, public health, medicine, health law, etc.  Premed drones, who are solely interested in buffing their resumes and getting into medical school, are not encouraged to apply.
4) What are your preferences for placement from the following list of likely clinical units?

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • Pediatric ICU
  • Medical ICU
  • HIV/AIDS Clinic
  • Teen Health Center
  • Palliative Care
  • Liver/Kidney Transplant Service
  • Prenatal Genetic Counseling
  • Emergency Department
  • Cancer Center
  • Chaplaincy Service
  • Surgical, Trauma, Burn ICU
  • Neurancy Neurological ICU