Health Care Ethics Internship

1. Internship Description

This course is a 3-credit internship at Sacred Heart Medical Center (SHMC). The internship provides opportunities for students to observe and dialogue with health care professionals in a wide number of areas including: ICU and CCU, Palliative Care, Pediatrics, NICU and Obstetrics, ER, Transplant Team, Psychiatry, and the Providence Health Urban Ethics Committee or the Providence Rural Critical Access Hospital Committee. Students meet with the Ethicist at SHMC, Dr. Andi Chatburn, each week to discuss readings and debrief from their observations. Through the internship, students will assess and analyze dilemmas that arise in the acute care medical setting through Clinical Ethics Consultation. Students will be asked to reflect on the difference between abstract, theoretical discussions of health care ethics and their concrete, particular manifestations in the lives of patients, families, and professional staff.

Students spend three hours per week at the hospital on Tuesdays from 7:00 am to 10:00 am, with some additional optional opportunities. The projected number of hours at the hospital is 48 hours for the semester.

Students prepare for weekly discussions based upon assigned reading, complete a Creative Reflection Project, and write a 10-12-page paper. Dr. Chatburn is responsible for all assignments and grades. Dr. Chatburn is a Palliative Care Specialist as well as the Ethicist at SHMC. Dr. Jay Ciaffa in the Philosophy Department serves as a liaison to SHMC. You may contact him with any questions.

2. Learning Objectives

In the Internship experience, students will:

  1. Identify situations in patient care in which an ethics consultation might be helpful and those in which it may interfere with care.
  2. Use the Providence model for ethical decision making to assess and analyze ethics cases that arise in patient care.
  3. Develop research and presentation skills in health care ethics.
  4. Observe the work of the hospital ethics committee and understand how this structure integrates with various constituencies in the organization.
  5. Reflect on the difference between abstract, theoretical discussions of health care ethics and their concrete particular manifestations in the lives of patients, families and professional staff.

3. Internship Behavioral Expectations

  • The intern is expected to dress in professional business attire (no jeans or athletic shoes, etc.).
  • The intern is expected to respect all aspects of patient confidentiality.
  • The intern will be responsible for being present for each scheduled Tuesday session. If due to illness you are unable to attend a session, you must arrange a make-up assignment with Dr. Chatburn.

4. Coordination and Administration

Dr. Chatburn is the instructor and principal supervisor for the internship. Dr. Jay Ciaffa in the Philosophy Department at Gonzaga will serve as the academic coordinator for the internship. He receives and reviews applications for the internship. Students must meet with him prior to registering for the internship as PHIL 390. He serves as a liaison between the Philosophy Department and Dr. Chatburn and SHMC. If students have any questions or concerns about the internship, they should contact Dr. Ciaffa.

5. Other Policies

Credit for the internship does not fulfill any core requirements for philosophy, but the three credits may count as credits for the minor in philosophy.

6. Applying for the Internship

To apply for the Philosophy Department Medical Ethics Internship send a letter of interest to Dr. Jay Ciaffa (, Department of Philosophy, Gonzaga University as well as a current resume. The letter should describe prior experience in the health care field and the student’s interest in the internship. Two students are accepted for the internship each semester. Applications for the Fall semester should be received no later than April 1st of the previous semester. Applications for the Spring semester should be made by November 1st of the previous semester. Late applications may be considered if availability permits.

Want to connect with the Philosophy Department?

Send a message
502 E. Boone Ave., MSC 2473
Spokane, WA 99258
(509) 313-6741