Competencies and Milestones for Bioethics Trainees: Beyond ASBH’s Healthcare Ethics Certification and Core Competencies

Kimberly E. Sawyer, Nicolas Dundas, Anna Snyder, and Douglas S. Diekema




Clinical ethics training programs are responsible for preparing their trainees to be competent ethics consultants worthy of the trust of patients, families, surrogates, and healthcare professionals. While the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) offers a certification examination for healthcare ethics consultants, no tools exist for the formal evaluation of ethics trainees to assess their progress toward competency. Medical specialties accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) use milestones to report trainees’ progress along a continuum of professional development as a means of “operationalizing and implementing” medical competencies. Utilizing the Core Competencies for Healthcare Ethics Consultation and the ACGME and American Board of Pediatrics’ (ABP) Pediatric Milestones Project, we developed milestones for 17 subcompetencies in clinical ethics consultation and academic bioethics. As the field of clinical ethics becomes more standardized, such tools will be needed to promote the development of robust training programs and to certify that their graduates are competent practitioners.



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