CHA outlines qualifications, competencies for ethicists in Catholic health care

June 15, 2018

CHA has released guidelines for qualifications, competencies and character traits for ethicists working in Catholic health care. The detailed guidelines can be found at


The guidelines build on previous work at CHA and set out the knowledge, education, skills and experience needed to serve as an ethicist whether at a facility level, a regional level or at a system level. Ethicists whose responsibilities include medical consultations or who do research and policy development for an entire health care system are encouraged to complete a more advanced level of education, such as a Ph.D. in bioethics or an equivalent credential, which are set out in the guidelines.

The guidelines also highlight the need for character development and ongoing spiritual formation.

CHA's 16-member Theology and Ethics Committee developed the guidelines between 2016 and 2018, with approval by the committee in March and final revisions in May.

Nicholas J. Kockler, regional director and endowed chair in applied health care ethics at the Providence Center for Health Care Ethics in Portland, Ore., served on the committee and said of its work: "I think it was an intentional reflection on what does it mean for health care ethics as a field to evolve into a professional discipline, offering a clinical service. Part of that was trying to understand how do we ensure consistency, competency and excellence in that service, and doing so in a whole person way."


The committee notes in the preamble to the qualifications and competencies that the document is intended to supplement other resources such as CHA's "Striving for Excellence in Ethics" document and its quarterly Health Care Ethics USA publication. It says the competencies are consistent with those of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities' core competencies, "but include additional aspects specific to Catholic method and principles."

Nate Hibner, CHA director of ethics, said the qualifications and competencies likely will be used in a variety of ways. They can help ethics students as they determine what to study and what experience to pursue. They can be used by health care systems to write job descriptions and hire, and in their support of professional development opportunities and formation programs for employees.

They also will be used by CHA in discussions with academic institutions and member organizations to examine areas where greater educational opportunities and training are needed, such as in postgraduate health care ethics fellowships.



Copyright © 2018 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.

Copyright © 2018 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.