MA Philosophy Practicum

Paul R. Helft, MD, Director of the Fairbanks Center, and Jason T. Eberl, PhD, Co-director of the Master of Arts in Philosophy Program at IU, are jointly responsible as course directors.  Students who elect to participate in the semester-long practicum participate in the planning of experiences intended to deepen their knowledge and understanding of clinical ethics as lived in clinical settings.  Thus, course experiences are shaped for each student individually.  Dr. Helft and Fairbanks Center staff are primarily responsible for coordinating the activities of the practicum on an individual basis with participating students. Dr. Eberl is primarily responsible for evaluating and assigning grades for students participating in the practicum.

The practicum is a one semester course. Students are expected to spend a total of 40 hours during the semester engaged in on-site activities related to the practicum. Up to four (4) students may enroll each semester in the practicum.

Practicum activities take place at IU Health Hospitals, the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM), related physician practices and facilities, and (through special arrangement) Wishard Memorial Hospital.

Depending on the student’s individual area of interest, experience may be gained in a number of different 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.  All students participate in core activities, including the following:

  • Attend twice monthly meetings of the IU Health Ethics Consultation Sub-Committee
  • Attend monthly meetings of the IU Health Ethics Committee
  • Attend lectures related to clinical ethics sponsored by the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics, the IU Center for Bioethics, the IUPUI Medical Humanities Program, or the IUPUI Philosophy Department
  • Participate in guided discussion and analysis of ethics consultation chart notes and summary reports
  • Read about the history, nature and goals of clinical ethics consultation

If time and circumstances permit, students will be able to observe a bedside consultation. Students may also arrange individual interviews with members of the IU Health Ethics Consultation Service.

Students interested in additional experience in research ethics may also participate in the following activities:

  • Attend meetings of any of the five IUPUI Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)
  • Attend meetings of the IUPUI Executive Committee of IRBs
  • Attend meetings of the IUSM Conflict of Interest Committee
  • Observe relevant lab meetings of investigators designing clinical trials
  • Participate in the Research Subject Advocate program at the Indiana University General Clinical Research Center.

To complete the practicum, students will select a clinical ethics dilemma they have heard about during the semester and, maintaining compliance with confidentiality requirements, will write a critical analysis of the case or a conceptual analysis of ethical issues relevant to the case in a 15-18 page term paper. This paper may culminate in a publishable manuscript for submission to an appropriate journal or serve as the foundation for a student’s thesis/research project. In addition to the term paper, students will submit biweekly 1-2 page reports outlining their activities and briefly describing at least one of the cases they learned about. One of these reports must be developed into a more in-depth 6-8 page analysis that will be due by mid-term and will be graded. This short analysis paper may serve as the foundation for the student’s term paper.

Dr. Eberl evaluates all term papers and other written assignments and assigns an overall course grade: 60% for the term paper, 30% for the short analysis paper, and 10% for turning in the biweekly reports.

For additional information contact:

Jason T. Eberl, PhD - jeberl@iupui.edu
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Co-director, Master of Arts in Philosophy Program
Indiana University School of Liberal Arts
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

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