Health Care Ethics Internship is a year-long
program that brings SCU students into hospital and hospice settings
where they learn firsthand about ethical dilemmas in the medical
field. Students rotate through various units in local hospitals and other health care facilities, shadowing health care professionals as they encounter ethical issues.
As former intern Chris Hong described it, "Since beginning
my internship ...,
I have had the opportunity to work with doctors, nurses, social
workers, and chaplains in various departments, with the intention
to observe ethically questionable situations. The health care
workers always candidly explained the cases they were working
on, painting a clear and honest picture of ethical issues when
A major component of the program is participation in biweekly reflection
sessions at Santa Clara University. In these sessions, students
utilize an ethical framework to consider case studies and theoretical
approaches to medical ethics.
For students considering a career in health care, the program,
established in 2001, has been an eye-opener. As one found, "It's
hard to come to terms with the fact that medicine cannot stop
the diseases once someone has become sick. That was such a hard
thing to realize because for me, the appeal of medicine is the
perception that you can 'fix' people. On that day [in the Oncology
Unit], I had to admit to myself that there are some things that
medicine cannot accomplish."
The students report a tremendous increase in respect for nurses
and doctors. "The doctors showed me that there are many
doctors who care and want to help," said one participant.
"They treated me like I had credibility and could also
one day be a doctor." During their rotations the students'
interactions with staff foster a two-way exchange about ethical
issues, benefiting both parties.
For more information about the internship, contact Anna Kozas.
The views expressed on this site are the author's. The
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics does not advocate particular positions
but seeks to encourage dialogue on the ethical dimensions of current
issues. The Center welcomes comments
and alternative points of view.