Clinical ethics gets accrediting commission's nod as health science discipline

May 2024

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs has voted to accept clinical ethics as a health science discipline. The recognition is the commission's first step toward awarding accreditation to clinical ethics educational programs.

In a release announcing the vote, Dr. Ellen Fox of the commission's Clinical Ethics Steering Committee, explained that clinical ethics is a "practical health care discipline that focuses on identifying, analyzing, and resolving ethical issues that arise in clinical practice."

"Clinical ethicists work in health care institutions, typically hospitals or health care systems," Fox said. "Clinical ethics practice includes clinical ethics consultation, which involves interacting directly with patients and health care providers to help address the ethical issues involved in a specific patient case."

In addition to recognizing the new discipline, the commission approved for membership CHA and the Association of Bioethics Program Directors. The commission noted that both organizations support clinical ethics.

Diarmuid Rooney, vice president of sponsorship and mission services at CHA, noted that few clinical ethics fellowship programs exist, especially in Catholic health systems, yet vacant entry-level ethics positions "appropriately require applicants to have several years of experience."

"Having a major seat at the table will permit CHA to be a leader in influencing standards for accreditation of ethicists, formulating high-quality ethics formation and education programs, and thus ensuring the future pipeline of ethicists in Catholic health care," Rooney said. "Membership in CAAHEP provides all the necessary resources to achieve this goal, therefore raising the potential for success for this project."

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs is a postsecondary accrediting agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. It accredits more than 2,600 educational programs preparing health professionals in 32 disciplines.


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