Santa Clara University

Markkula Center

Learning Ethics at the Bedside

Health Care Ethics Internship alumnae at work


When we invited all our previous student workers, fellows, and interns to a reunion this fall, we heard from scores of our alumni who are doing really good work in the world.  Nowhere was that more apparent than among the grads of our Health Care Ethics Internship, a one-year program that brings SCU students into local hospitals to shadow medical professionals and learn about ethical issues in health care.

The internship allows students time at the bedside, observing doctors, nurses, chaplains, social workers and other professionals. They observe patients confronting issues from what to do about a struggling “premie” to how to make end-of-life decisions. Interns then process that experience in regular reflection sessions with bioethicists on the Center’s staff.

Bryn Willson, a recent program alumna wrote:

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the Ethics Center reunion. However, I am happy to report that it is because I am currently in my first year of medical school at Creighton University School of Medicine. We actually take an "Ethics and Legal Topics in Medicine" course this first semester, which I am thrilled to participate in. I am also thrilled that, because of my experience in the internship program, it is all mostly review!

Another internship alumnus who wrote to us was further along in his medical career. Ryan Hubbard, a hospitalist at Kaiser Santa Rosa, remembered:

Ryan-Hubbard"My time during the internship not only confirmed my desire to pursue health care as a career, but gave me an ethical foundation to approach every patient I care for as a hospitalist. Every department and staff member that I had the opportunity to shadow at O'Connor Hospital gave me additional perspective on caring for the whole person."

This is exactly the result that Andrew and Beverly Honzel were hoping for when they endowed a fund at the Center that supports the Health Care Ethics Interns and other projects. They understood that young people who had seriously engaged with ethical issues in their undergraduate careers could ultimately change the face of the health care field as they advanced in the profession. More than 150 SCU students have gone through the internship, and they are becoming the ethical physicians, nurses, dentists, and public health workers the world really needs.

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