Since Hippocrates instructed those ancient Greek physicians to “do no harm,” the ethics of health care practitioners have been at the center of medical practice. Today’s medical pros are faced with ethical decisions – big and small – almost daily.
- The American Medical Association lists principles that require doctors to act with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights.
- Nurses commit to practice with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems.
Ethics covers principles of care mandated by law, decisions that are often deeply moral, and actions that answer to some higher calling. The National Center for Ethics in Healthcare represents various fields including medicine, nursing, philosophy, law, policymaking, education, theology, social work, and health care administration. Their National Ethics Committee “provides analysis and guidance on controversial ethics issues affecting patients, providers, health care managers, and health policymakers in concise, practical reports.” It is substantial resource for anyone interested in healthcare ethics.
Following are five hot job opportunities in the field of healthcare ethics:
#1 Medical Ethics Consultant
Research and clinical settings have ethics committees that often require advice structuring their organizational behavior. Any career in consultation on issues of medical ethics requires advanced education in law, philosophy, and/or ethics.
#2 Public Policy Consultant
Public policy makers require advice on health, education, and the law. The advice covers everything from patients’ rights to services by agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the US Food and Drug Administration. The advice ranges from bio-ethics and stem cell research to the availability, costing, and distribution of pharmaceuticals. Job candidates need graduate school degree(s) in law, public policy, and/or public health.
#3 Clinical Social Workers
These social workers help people who suffer from mental disease and/or abuse drugs and/or alcohol. They interview people in search of care options, and they seek community support for integration of such patients. They face ethical challenges with regard to their response to people’ social or financial class, and they wrestle with issues of confidentiality.
Some Clinical Social Workers teach class or make presentations on life skills, coping, and dealing with anger. Some of these workers teach classes about how to make a budget, deal with anger, or get other life skills. Education requirements include a four-year college degree in Ethics or related social work major, licensing certificate, and some graduate work.
#4 Compliance and Ethics Coordinator
C&E Coordinators run investigations into compliance violations, and they serve as the corporate resource for those seeking assistance with concerns and questions about ethics compliance. They mine databases of complaints for the decision makes and routinely maintain the confidentiality of complaints and solution decisions. C&E Coordinators are often trained attorneys.
#5 Director of Human Research Protections
Clinical practices and research programs need assurance in the areas of bio-ethics, human subjects’ protection, and ethical compliance process improvement. The best candidates have interdisciplinary education in law, ethics, and medicine because they are expected to develop, manage, and evaluate policies and procedures that comply with all state and federal regulations governing human subject.
Only the larger institutions can staff up to protect themselves and their patients. That fact does not reduce the obligation of every medical professional and clinical/research facility to comply. And, given the complexity of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, there will be a sudden up-swing in medical ethics opportunities.