Volume 23, Number 2, Summer 2012

Training in Clinical Ethics: Launching the Clinical Ethics Immersion Course at the Center for Ethics at the Washington Hospital Center


Nneka O. Mokwunye, Evan G. DeRenzo, Virginia A. Brown, and John J. Lynch


The Journal of Clinical Ethics 23, no. 2 (Summer 2012): 139-146


In May 2011, the clinical ethics group of the Center for Ethics at Washington Hospital Center launched a 40-hour, three and one-half day Clinical Ethics Immersion Course. Created to address gaps in training in the practice of clinical ethics, the course is for those who now practice clinical ethics and for those who teach bioethics but who do not, or who rarely, have the opportunity to be in a clinical setting.


“Immersion” refers to a high-intensity clinical ethics experience in a busy, urban, acute care hospital. During the Immersion Course, participants join clinical ethicists on working rounds in intensive care units and trauma service. Participants engage in a videotaped role-play conversation with an actor. Each simulated session reflects a practical, realistic clinical ethics case consultation scenario. Participants also review patients’ charts, and have small group discussions on selected clinical ethics topics. As ethics consultation requests come into the center, Immersion Course participants accompany clinical ethicists on consultations.


Specific to this pilot, because participants’ evaluations and course faculty impressions were positive, the Center for Ethics will conduct the course twice each year. We look forward to improving the pilot and establishing the Immersion Course as one step towards addressing the gap in training opportunities in clinical ethics.



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