Bioethics Internship Seminar—Health Policy and Administration

Bioethics Internship Seminar—Health Policy and Administration

The Center for Health Humanities and Ethics currently offers approximately ten graduate/undergraduate Health Policy and Administration internships.  This internship experience and related seminar are designed to provide students with experience in discerning and analyzing ethical issues pertaining to institutional policies and operations as they arise in healthcare settings.  Each student spends several hours a week in an administrative sector of the University of Virginia Health System (the same setting throughout the semester) under the mentorship of a health care professional, legal professional, or administrator engaged in that setting.  Past placements have matched students with mentors working in quality and performance improvement, risk management, hospital operations, the long-term acute care hospital, the pharmacy, the institutional review board, and the financial office, among other settings.

All students (an expected total of 10) will meet weekly, on Tuesday afternoons from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm, as a seminar to discuss their experiences in their field placements. (We will generally only meet for two hours, but that may vary from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm or 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm, depending on the activity for the day.)  Seminar time focuses on the students’ observations and analyses of particular ethical issues that arise in their placements. The seminar is led by Lois Shepherd, a professor of biomedical ethics, public health sciences, and law. Each student is required to do a certain amount of reading and complete a research project focusing on a problem or issue presented during their internship.  Students then present the results of their work, usually focused on a case, to the full seminar.  Mentors usually attend these sessions.

The course is open to graduate students in public health sciences, nursing, law, and other relevant fields as well as to well-prepared fourth-year undergraduate students with extensive prior study of bioethics.  Students are expected to have some background knowledge of bioethics methods and common questions.  The combination of students from various disciplines and professions creates a rich environment for the sharing of observations and analysis relating to field placements.

Application for Bioethics Internships in Health Policy and Administration

Entrance to this internship program is by application only.   If you wish to apply, compose your application in an email and send it directly to Lois Shepherd at and Charlene Kaufman at with “Bioethics Internship Seminar – Health Policy and Administration” plus your last name in the subject line.  We hope to finalize enrollment less than a week later so you will know your status before registration begins.

Please include in your email application the following

1) Name, e-mail, year, school, major/minor

Among undergraduates, preference will be given to graduating 4th years who are minoring in bioethics, doing an interdisciplinary major, or who have done well in at least one upper level bioethics elective.

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, bioethics?  Be sure to list the grades you received in such courses.

Because this course is run as a seminar, 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?

Some 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.