Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-11-2018


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Health Care Ethics


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Gerard Magill

Committee Member

Henk ten Have

Committee Member

Joris Gielen


Virtue Ethics Clinical Ethics Consultation Curriculum ASBH


Due to a lack of formal credentials for clinical ethics consultants, the professionalization of clinical ethics as a normative discipline in contemporary American health care is diminished amongst other health care professionals. While medical specialties, organizational leadership positions, and other miscellaneous health care occupations possess governing bodies that posit credentials that justify these roles, clinical ethics consultants lack a standard of competence. While this gap has been temporarily reconciled by individual employer criteria, a national standard that attempts to educate and demonstrate a clinical ethicist’s abilities does not exist. Still, various attempts have been made to establish a certification program for clinical ethicists. These programs contain central concepts in ethics consultation and are effective in demonstrating the impact of a clinical ethicist’s knowledge. However, the educational facets entailed in proposed certification programs that clinical ethicist ought to be familiar with do not include information surrounding the nature of clinical ethics and the role a clinical ethicist must embody in order to perform his job effectively.

The central supposition of this dissertation is that additional work needs to be completed around clinical ethics education and certification. While no formal certification or educational standard exists for clinical ethicists, this dissertation proposes key components for an ethics consultation curriculum. The key components in this dissertation emphasize the nature and value of virtue in clinical ethics and the role virtue plays in orchestrating an effective certification program for ethicists. This dissertation aims to do the following: (i) Clarify and demonstrate the problems associated with a lack of formal certification standard for ethicists; (ii) Define and examine the nature of clinical ethics and the role philosophy plays in this line of work; (iii) Explain and demonstrate the effectiveness of teaching virtues as key components for a formalized ethics consultation curriculum; and (iv) Illustrate how key components for an ethics consultation curriculum manifest in an educational venue for clinical ethicists. This dissertation seeks to contribute a novel approach to educating and certifying clinical ethicists in the United States. By combining knowledge points associated with moral philosophy and medicine with general skill objectives for ethics consultants, this dissertation aids in developing analytic moral reasoning skills for clinical ethicists which in turn fosters the overall education and professional development of clinical ethics consultants.