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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Health Care Ethics Internship

The Health Care Ethics Internship is a year-long program that brings SCU students into healthcare settings where they learn firsthand about the ethical dilemmas providers and health care leaders face. Students complete clinical rotations in a variety of health care settings and meet weekly to reflect on and discuss classic and emerging issues in health care and biotechnology. The internship is designed for students interested in health care, health policy, biotechnology, bioengineering, health law, and health care administration.


Student observing a nurse in the NICU

A Health Care Ethics Intern observes the work of a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

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 they arose."

A major component of the program is participation in weekly reflection sessions at Santa Clara University. In these sessions, students utilize an ethical framework to consider case studies and address ethical dilemmas in health care and biotechnology.

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, please contact Dorothée Caminiti at

Perspectives on Ethical Issues in Health Care

    Reflections from an Alumna

    • Full Width image link to article

      Elizabeth "Liz" Connelly shares what she learned from her two years with the Health Care Ethics Internship Program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics--first as a Health Care Ethics Intern in the 2013-14 class, and then as the 2014-15 Honzel Fellow in Health Care Ethics.

      Former Intern Briana Britton Reflects

      Britton describes how the Health Care Ethics Internship was a formative experience.