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Catholic Healthcare Ethics Course Descriptions

Academic Courses

HCE-753, Genetics and Ethics

The course discusses ethical issues related to emerging trends in human genetics and stem cell research. Topics include: the development of ethics discourse on the human genome; ethics and technology; Consent and Genetics Counseling; Stem Cell Research and Cloning; Germline Modification; Genetics, Disability, and the Vulnerable; Population Screening, including Newborns; Individuals Screening and Tests; Neuro-ethics and Nano-ethics; Patents, Biobanking, and Business. Specifically, for the Catholic Program, the Research Projects and the Research Essay in the course will deal with topics related to Catholic health care.

HCE-759, Methods in Healthcare Ethics

This course provides a foundational introduction to other degree courses in the healthcare ethics curriculum. The course presents a historical and systematic analysis of theoretical approaches to healthcare ethics as well as a study of practical issues. A general ethical typology presents knowledge of the vocabulary and methods in the field. Practical issues are discussed to illustrate the theoretical questions. Specifically, for the Catholic Program, the Research Projects and the Research Essay in the course will deal with topics related to Catholic health care.

HCE-762, Organizational Ethics in Health Care

The course examines the role of organizational ethics in health care. Business ethics and corporate ethics (with accompanying topics of risk management, compliance, and quality improvement) are included within the description of organizational ethics. The analysis focuses on the integration of clinical, professional, and organizational ethics in health care to foster culturally competent patient-centered care. The study considers relevant standards in the field, such as the Joint Commission's accreditation standards for hospitals. The concerns that are discussed vary from theoretical issues, relevant principles, and practical topics. Specifically, for the Catholic Program, the Research Projects and the Research Essay in the course will deal with topics related to Catholic health care.

HCE 758, Intensive Research in Healthcare Ethics

The course offers an opportunity for students to investigate intensive research topics in healthcare ethics related to their anticipated DHCE Project or PhD Dissertation. The course will guide students from their broad interest in general doctoral topics to the development of a focused research thesis, investigating relevant arguments and literature to support the main components of their subsequent doctoral writing. Specifically, for the Catholic Program, the Research Thesis and the Research Essay will deal with topics related to Catholic health care.

HCE-760, Dissertation Writing in Healthcare Ethics.

The course will train HCE students in high quality research writing that occurs in the DHCE Project and PhD Dissertation (both are included by using the word "dissertation" in the Course Syllabus). A variety of techniques will be explored to integrate the related components of research and writing in the chapters of the dissertation. This course explains the progress that is required as students move from their semester course essays to writing the chapters of their dissertation. Specifically, for the Catholic Program, the Research Essay will deal with topics related to Catholic health care.

HCE 745, Comparative Religious Bioethics

Empirical studies have shown that attitudes to bioethical issues are often influenced by religion. Moreover, in the past few decades, religious authorities have expressed outspoken opinions on bioethical issues not only in Christianity, but in other religions too. However, there are substantial differences between religions in the ways in which bioethical arguments are constructed. Insight in this religious diversity is important to understand the bioethical attitudes of people belonging to religious minorities (e.g. Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims) who work or receive treatment in Catholic healthcare institutions. In the first part of the course, students become aware of the existence of deep structural differences between the Roman Catholic tradition and non-Christian religions in their development of bioethics. In the second part, the differences are further explored through the study of (non-Christian) religious answers to a concrete ethical issue at the end of life. In the third part, the observations from the previous parts are applied to assess whether and how these answers differ from Roman Catholic answers.

HCE 755 Global Bioethics

The Catholic tradition has always had a global perspective. The ethical teaching however, though universal, has not necessarily been global. The recent turn of bioethics into global bioethics is nowadays supported and promoted by the Catholic Church. Laudato Si (2015) is an excellent example of the global bioethical discourse.
The course will make students familiar with the recent issues and debates in global bioethics. It will explain basic notions of global bioethics, as identified in the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, unanimously adopted by the 193 Members States of UNESCO in 2005. The focus will be on universal principles such as human dignity and human rights, respect for human vulnerability and personal integrity, respect for cultural diversity and pluralism, solidarity and cooperation, social responsibility and health, sharing of benefits, protecting future generations, and protection of the environment, the biosphere and biodiversity. The course will also study the applications of the fundamental principles in various settings around the world.

HCE 746 - Clinical Healthcare Ethics

This Clinical Ethics Rotation consists of supervised placement in a Roman Catholic hospital (UPMC Mercy) in Pittsburgh with reading and discussion concerning clinical ethical issues. Students become familiar with the clinical environment and accompanying ethics issues and attend (without actively participating in) the Hospital Ethics Committee. Throughout the rotations, seminars, and journals students develop awareness and practical insight into the impact of Catholic mission and identity on concrete ethical cases. The rotation requires 150 hours of time. Admission only by prior arrangement with the HCE Director.

HCE 747 - Clinical Healthcare Ethics II

HCE 746 is a pre-requisite for HCE 747. This Clinical Ethics Rotation consists of supervised placement in a Roman Catholic hospital (UPMC Mercy) in Pittsburgh with reading and discussion concerning clinical ethical issues. A Mentored Apprenticeship occurs insofar as students shadow both ethics pre-consultations and ethics consultations and participate in the Hospital Ethics Committee. Throughout the rotations, seminars, and journals students further develop awareness and practical insight into the impact of Catholic mission and identity on concrete ethical cases. The Rotation requires 150 hours of time. Admission only by prior arrangement with the HCE Director.

HCE 781, Clinical Internship in Healthcare Ethics I

This course is open only to doctoral students and is ordinarily taken after completion of all required academic courses. The internship consists of clinical placement as ethicist-in-residence in a Catholic hospital. Under on-site supervision the student serves as institutional ethicist in the assigned facility. Duties include education of facility personnel through formal lectures, in-service workshops, teaching rounds, provision of written and audio-visual materials, ethics research for facility personnel, etc.; development of policy on various ethical issues; and prospective and retrospective case consultation. Each unit (three credits) of internship demands approximately 150 hours of work for the assigned facility. The student will particularly focus on Catholic healthcare ethics in his or her reflections and activities.

HCE 782, Clinical Internship in Healthcare Ethics II

This course is open only to doctoral students. It follows course HCE 781. The internship consists of clinical placement as ethicist-in-residence in a Catholic hospital. The student will focus on Catholic Healthcare Ethics. The three credits internship demands approximately 150 hours of work for the assigned facility. The course is the 4th component of the new Clinical and Organizational Rotations in Ethics (CORE), effective Fall 2008. The acronym helps to focus on the crucial core significance of the Rotations in our Degree Programs. The clinical component is so inter-woven with the organizational component in health care that the Rotations focus upon the dynamic relationship between clinical, organizational, and professional ethics.