Saint Louis University

PhD Program Update

Untitled Document

April 8, 2008
Bander Center Inauguration
Keynote Speaker:
Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH
Director, Institute of Ethics,
American Medical Association  
3:30-6:00 PM
LRC Auditorium, Medical Center Campus


New Concentrations with the Center's PhD Program

The Center’s PhD program has always produced graduates with expertise in health care ethics, but what if a student is interested specifically in empirical research? Or perhaps wants to work within Catholic health care, or is fascinated by the ethics of human subjects research? Three separate tracks now exist for the student who wants to seek distinction in one of these areas.

Normative ethics must frequently be informed by empirical facts, e.g., about what enhances informed consent, about how policy proposals are perceived by the public, or about how processes can improve organizational ethics. The Certificate in Empirical Research Methods deals with the intersection between facts and ethical analysis. The Certificate prepares students to conduct original empirical studies using questionnaires, focus groups, interviews, experimental designs, or other empirical methodologies. Students may choose to focus on qualitative or quantitative methods of data analysis.

While many of the ethical and mission commitments of faith-based health care are consistent with those of society, many commitments are unique and ethicists require specialized knowledge to work effectively in faith-based settings. Students in the Concentration in the Catholic Tradition of Health Care Ethics develop expertise in the relationship between moral theology and Catholic healthcare. A new course has been developed by Dr. Michael Panicola to support the concentration: “Health Care Ethics in the Catholic Tradition.” This course supplements a course required of all students, “Religious Methods in Health Care Ethics.” Dr. Iltis, the PhD Program Director, embraced the development of this concentration. “While our program has long prepared students well to work in the field of bioethics, we also wanted to offer high quality training for those students who choose to enter faith-based health care.”

Over the past decade, the number of grant opportunities, journals, and educational programs focusing on research ethics has grown enormously. Increasingly, it is assumed that bioethicsts will serve on university or hospital Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), and will introduce ethical considerations into dialogues about study designs. The new Concentration in Research Ethics was designed to prepare students to write dissertations in this quickly growing specialty in bioethics and to serve effectively on IRBs.

All of these concentrations involve 15 hours of specific coursework and culminate in a dissertation that integrates that student’s specialization in the broader context of normative ethics.

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