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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Health Care Ethics Internship

The Health Care Ethics Internship is a year-long program that ensures that participants will enter the health care field with a deep foundation in ethical thinking. The program, designed for students interested in health care, health policy, biotechnology, bioengineering, health law, and health care administration, places SCU undergraduates in community-based experiences with various units in local hospitals and other health care facilities, or with ethics departments in pharmaceutical, biotech, and technology companies.

Students meet weekly with their instructor and often welcome guest speakers to reflect on and discuss classic and emerging issues in health care and biotechnology. By interacting with health care professionals – including bioethicists, physicians, nurses, social workers, and administrators – the interns learn about day-to-day ethical challenges. These interactions foster a two-way exchange about ethical issues, benefiting both parties.

For more than 20 years, this dynamic program has provided interns with an in-depth ethical perspective on health and health care, and ensured that they are better prepared to address ethical challenges in their professional lives.


Student observing a nurse in the NICU

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

2023 Health Care Ethics Symposium

Symposium held Monday, June 5, 2023 with presentations by the 2022-23 Health Care Ethics Interns from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. 

Access Symposium Recording on YouTube

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
Alumni of the Health Care Ethics Internship
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.