Variation in Clinical Ethics Fellowship Programs: Lessons from the Field

Bryanna Moore and Claire Horner




Given the enduring debate over what constitutes quality, and therefore appropriate training, in clinical ethics consultation, it is unsurprising that there is variation in the structure and content of clinical ethics fellowship programs. However, this variation raises questions about the value of fellowship training when the ethicists that emerge from these programs might be quite different. The specifics of fellowship programs are largely internal. As such, the extent of variation and whether such variation is problematic remains unclear. In this article, we summarize lessons learned from discussions between fellows, their mentors and program directors at the 2020 Clinical Ethics UnConference, and outline some possible ways to advance the conversation about variation in fellowship programs and training. We argue for the more open sharing of training specifics in order to help break down the siloed nature of fellowship programs. Greater transparency could, firstly, allow for more robust reflection on and refinement of training practices and, secondly, allow us to better balance professionally appropriate consistency with unavoidable or desirable variation based on local norms, culture and leadership.




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