UNDERGRADUATE BIOETHICS PROGRAM
Four internship options are available for students interested in the field of Bioethics, two summer options and two semester-long options associated with a course and course credit:
- Summer Internships sponsored by the Institute for Practical Ethics, in which students arrange their specific internship placements with the advice and guidance of the IPE
- Summer Internships sponsored by the Center for Health, Humanities, & Ethics, in which students work directly with Center bioethics faculty mentors on projects of mutual interest or pre-established projects
- Bioethics Internship Seminar—Clinical Ethics, detailed below.
- Bioethics Internship Seminar—Health Policy and Administration, detailed below.
Bioethics Internship Seminar—Clinical Ethics
The Bioethics Program of the Center for Health Humanities and Ethics offers approximately ten undergraduate Clinical Ethics Internships each semester. This course, HHE 5701, is designed to provide students with experience in discerning and analyzing ethical issues as they arise in clinical settings. Each student will spend 3-4 hours per week on a clinical unit (the same unit throughout the semester) under the mentorship of a health care professional. Weekly seminar time will focus on the student’s reflections as a participant observer and on the ethical issues that commonly arise in health care. Students are expected to have basic background knowledge of common questions in bioethics and methods of analyzing those questions.
This program typically places students in such clinical services as: Neonatal ICU, HIV/AIDS Clinic, Cancer Center, Pediatric ICU, Pastoral Care, Palliative Care, Teen and Young Adult Center, Emergency Department, Organ Transplant, Advanced Heart Failure Program, Surgical/Trauma ICU, Medical ICU, and the Neurancy Neurological ICU. Each student is assigned a clinical mentor who is responsible for exposing the student to the practices and ethical problems of their field.
The course is led by Mary Faith Marshall, Director of the Center for Health Humanities and Ethics. The weekly 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. Because the course is run as a seminar we look for applicants who can reliably make thoughtful contributions to class discussion.
Each student is required to thoroughly analyze the assigned readings, participate actively in class, and complete a research project focusing on a problem or issue presented during their internship.
Preference will be given to graduating 4th years who are minoring in Health, Ethics, and Society (formerly 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.
Entrance to this internship program is by application only. Because course enrollment is limited and traditionally has 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 (or have questions), compose your application in an email and send it directly to Mary Faith Marshall at email@example.com with “Bioethics Internship Seminar Application” and your last name in the subject line.
Please include the following in your email application:
1) Name, e-mail, year, major/minor
2) Relevant courses (from which professors) you have taken that helped prepare you for this experience – e.g., in philosophical and/or religious ethics, political philosophy, medical anthropology, bioethics, human biology. List the grades that you received in these courses.
3) Why 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 a strong interest in bioethics and in pursuing a 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) A writing sample.
4) Your top 3 preferences for placement from the following list of likely clinical units.
- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
- Pediatric ICU
- Medical ICU
- HIV/AIDS Clinic
- Teen and Young Adult Health Center
- Palliative Care
- Organ Transplant Service
- Emergency Department
- Cancer Center
- Pastoral Care
- Surgical/Trauma, ICU
- Neurancy Neurological ICU
- Advanced Heart Failure Program
Bioethics Internship Seminar—Health Policy and Administration
The Bioethics Program currently offers approximately ten graduate/undergraduate Health Policy and Administration internships each spring semester. 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 to 6, as a seminar to discuss their experiences in their field placements. (We generally meet 3:00 to 5:00 in the early part of the semester and 4:00 to 6:00 in the later part of the semester to accommodate mentor schedules for final presentations.) 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 or observed 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and Charlene Kaufman at CMK2B@hscmail.mcc.virginia.edu with "Bioethics Internship Seminar" plus your last name in the subject line. Due date for applications is in early November, about two weeks prior to the opening of registration. 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.