Clinical Ethics for Trainees and Students

Clinical Ethics for Trainees and Students

Brief or more prolonged electives for trainees and students interested in clinical ethics are possible on a case-by-case basis. Attempts will be made to customize the experience for each individual trainee or student.  Students, Residents, and Fellows from any Department within the IU School of Medicine are invited to apply by speaking with Faculty of the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics. The purpose of this elective rotation is to help participating students and trainees to increase their knowledge in the field of medical ethics and develop practical skills in clinical ethics consultation, if they desire.  The course director is Paul R. Helft, MD, Director of the Fairbanks Center.

Pediatric Residency Ethics Elective


The elective in pediatric ethics was created to help participating residents increase their knowledge in the field of medical ethics and develop practical skills in clinical ethics consultation.


The elective is open to any resident in the Indiana University pediatrics residency program. All readings should be completed during the rotation and a draft of the elective project should be submitted within seven (7) days of finishing the rotation. Med/peds residents may take the elective as a rotation in either medicine or pediatrics.

This is an elective requiring extensive reading, reflection and discussions.  The participant will meet with Dr. Salih based on a schedule created at the first meeting. During the subsequent sessions resident will discuss ethical principles and other ethical decision making tools with Dr. Salih and then apply these to clinical cases. These discussions will also be helpful to explore the resident’s interest in a specific topic in ethics which the resident will focus her/his project. In sum, teaching in this month will be highly personalized based on learner’s needs and interests. It may be described as “coaching in ethics learning”.

If the participant has a Wednesday morning continuity clinic, it is recommended that the resident make arrangements ahead of time to change the clinic day so that he/she may participate in Fairbanks Fellowship in Clinical Ethics seminar activities.

Goals of the Rotation:

1. Acquire a functional framework for ethical decision-making in the practice of medicine.
2. Develop skills for the practical application of ethics principles to cases in pediatric medicine.
3. Have an opportunity to explore personal interest topics within the area of pediatric bioethics.
4. Increase personal knowledge of literature in pediatric bioethics.
5. Develop leadership and teaching skills by observing several leading ethics faculty in the campus and also by leading fellow residents through an exercise in ethics.

Rotation Activities:

1. Essential readings in ethics
2. Neonataology fellowship ethics curriculum lectures
3. Participation in the Fairbanks Fellowship in Cliincal Ethics meetings, seminars, and consultations. (Contact Robyn Axel-Adams for more information)
4. Meet with Dr. Gunderman who is an outstanding scholar in ethics and humanities
5. Participation in multidisciplinary/interprofessional family meetings in Riley NICU for difficult conversations.
6. Paricipation in prenatal consultations at University/Methodist Hospital
7. Preparation of an Art of medicine discussion topic for a future morning report session.
8. Completion of one special project in ethics.
9. Scholarship

For additional information contact:

Zeynep N. Salih, MD, MA

Internal Medicine Elective

Internal Medicine residents at the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) are invited to participate in a month-long ethics elective sponsored and coordinated by the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics at Indiana University Health.  Residents are expected to spend a total of 9 hours per week engaged in activities related to the elective.  Up to two (2) residents may participate each month.  Vacation time is limited to five (5) days.

During this elective, residents have access to ethics activities in both in-patient and out-patient facilities of the IU School of Medicine, IU Health Hospitals, and Eskenazi Health.  Participating residents may use the workroom within the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics (in the Methodist Hospital Noyes Pavilion) if they require temporary space for coordinating their activities.

Residents will gain experience in various aspects of hospital-based clinical ethics activities, such as clinical ethics consultation, chaplaincy and the religious and spiritual aspects of hospital ethics, and legal aspects of medical ethics and health law.

Required activities include:
• Participation in twice-monthly meetings of the IU Health Ethics Consultation Subcommittee (2 per month, 1.5 hours each)
• Participation in monthly meetings of the IU Health Ethics Committee (1 per month, 1.5 hours)
• Participation in the weekly seminar class of the Fairbanks Fellowship in Clinical Ethics, including readings associated with each class (2 hours per week, 4 classes per month, plus 1-2 hours reading per week) This class runs concurrently with Super School hours, so residents are excused from the parts of the Fellowship seminar which conflict with Super School.
• Prepare and submit a brief annotated bibliography summarizing readings on an ethics topic of interest, to be identified by each resident in collaboration with Fairbanks Center Staff.
• Attend the monthly Fairbanks Ethics Lecture (1 per month, 1 hour each)

Additional activities may include:
• Participation in at least one direct, patient-centered consultation with the Ethics Consultation Service
• Assisting in preparation of a consultation chart note and summary report

Residents interested in additional experience in research ethics may also participate in the following activities depending on availability:
• Attend meetings of any of the five (5) IUPUI Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)
• Attend meetings of the IUPUI Executive Committee of IRBs
• Attend meetings of the IUSM Conflict of Interest Committee
• Participate in relevant lab meetings of investigators designing clinical trials
• Participate in the Research Subject Advocate Program of the Indiana University General Clinical Research Center

The coordinators of the elective will attempt to accommodate special requests based on interest as much as possible. Residents will be encouraged to undertake a brief research project, case report and analysis, or research paper for publication as part of their elective.

For more information contact:

Paul R. Helft, MD -
Director, Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics
Associate Professor of Medicine
Division of Hematology/Oncology
Indiana University School of Medicine