Students who participate in this DPS track will complete 18 hours (6 courses) where they develop a comprehensive knowledge of the ethics involved in all aspects of clinical care. Students will also complete 9 hours (3 courses) of online elective courses and 6 hours (2 course) of online doctoral research project, which may be a traditional doctoral thesis, 2 journal articles, or an advanced, applied project in the student’s workplace.

Course NameNumber
Clinical Ethics PracticumAMBI 603
Clinical Ethics CapstoneAMBI 604
Pediatric Ethics, Law, and PolicyAMBI 607
Reproductive EthicsAMBI 610
End of Life Ethics, Law, and PolicyAMBI 612
Mental Health EthicsAMBI 619
Three (3) Electives Any 500- or 600-level AMBI course.
Justice and Equity in Scientific ResearchAMBI 628
Term Dates
Fall 2023Sept. 6 - Nov. 14
Winter 2024Jan. 3 - March 2
Spring 2024March 20 - May 28
Summer 2024June 12 - Aug. 20
Fall 2024Sept. 4 - Nov. 12
Winter 2025Jan. 8 - March 18
Spring 2025March 26 - June 3
Summer 2025June 11 - Aug. 19
Course Rotations
2023-2024Fall WinterSpring Summer
AMBI 503 Fundamentals of Clinical EthicsAMBI 504 Public Health Ethics, Law, and PolicyAMBI 501 Methods in Bioethics AMBI 505 Law and Bioethics
AMBI 508 Philosophical Foundations in BioethicsAMBI 505 Law and BioethicsAMBI 506 Foundations in Research Ethics
AMBI 606 Justice in Health CareAMBI 605 Intercultural BioethicsAMBI 603 Clinical Ethics PracticumAMBI 602 Genethics
AMBI 607 Pediatric Ethics, Healthcare, and PolicyAMBI 612 End of Life Ethics, Policy, and LawAMBI 604 Clinical Ethics CapstoneAMBI 615 Ethics of Healthcare Business
AMBI 624 Classic Cases in BioethicsAMBI 721 Skills in Policy and Program DevelopmentAMBI 610 Reproductive EthicsAMBI 619 Mental Health Ethics, Law, and Policy
AMBI 617 Population Health EthicsAMBI 625 Clinical Ethics Consultation Intensive
Course Rotations
2024-2025Fall WinterSpring Summer
AMBI 503 Fundamentals of Clinical EthicsAMBI 504 Public Health Ethics, Law, and PolicyAMBI 501 Methods in Bioethics AMBI 505 Law and Bioethics
AMBI 506 Foundations in Research EthicsAMBI 505 Law and BioethicsAMBI 508 Philosophical Foundations in Bioethics
AMBI 606 Justice in Health CareAMBI 612 End of Life Ethics, Policy, and LawAMBI 603 Clinical Ethics PracticumAMBI 615 Ethics of Healthcare Business
AMBI 607 Pediatric Ethics, Healthcare, and PolicyAMBI 612 End of Life Ethics, Policy, and LawAMBI 604 Clinical Ethics CapstoneAMBI 619 Mental Health Ethics, Law, and Policy
AMBI 618 NeuroethicsAMBI 627 Advanced Topics in Research EthicsAMBI 610 Reproductive EthicsAMBI 624 Classic Cases in Bioethics
AMBI 721 Skills in Policy and Program DevelopmentAMBI 617 Population Health EthicsAMBI 625 Clinical Ethics Consultation Intensive

Core Course Descriptions

Course ID: AMBI 603
This is a course that focuses on the rigorous development and assessment of the practical analytical skills of the hospital clinical ethicist. There will be frequent case write-ups necessary for consultation along with exercises related to hospital and health care policy and educations.
Pre-requisite: AMBI 503 or permission of the instructor.

Course ID: AMBI 604
This week-long course takes place virtually, in a combination of practice and lecture. Much of the training is done in partnership with Albany Medical Center's state of the art Patient Safety and Clinical Competency Center, where residents and medical students are also taught. This practicum teaches students the hands-on skills required to do ethics consultation and mediation in health care settings; including how to establish and run a hospital ethics committee, conduct a family meeting, and do clinical ethics education for health care practitioners. The practicum also exposes students to clinical settings and actual ethics committees in addition to interacting with standardized patients to practice and learn clinical ethics skills. Please note- this course is only offered in the spring term, and takes place in mid-May.
Pre-requisite: AMBI 503 and 603 or permission of the instructor.

Course ID: AMBI 607
This course will introduce ethical topics in the areas of pediatric medicine and research.  Although many tools of ethical reflection and deliberation have no relationship to the age of the population being considered, there are aspects of the pediatric population that raise unique concerns, create novel moral environments, and thus require nuanced and sensitive attention to and tools of ethical inquiry.  Children are not just adults in smaller packaging, and while many of them develop physical and cognitive abilities that slowly become adult-like, not being “fully adult” (whatever we might mean by that) entails that we need to handle their care differently—medically, psychological, morally, legally, and so on.

Course ID: AMBI 610
This course aims to introduce students to the range of issues related to reproductive ethics, law and policy that result from the development of new technologies and innovations. In this course, students will be asked to grapple with tough questions regarding the concept of procreative liberty, whether there is a right to reproduce, and if so, what are its limits, what it means to be a parent, who should be allowed to parent, whether it is morally acceptable to want to have a genetically modified or “enhanced” child, and whether advances in genetic technologies that make such choices possible are good things for our society.

Course ID: AMBI 612
This course addresses ethical legal and policy issues related to end of life care including the definition of brain death, decision-making capacity, do-not-resuscitate orders, patient privacy and confidentiality, and end of life issues with special populations including children and the mentally sick. The course also addresses the role of the ethics committee in resolving ethical questions in these situations and a number of the court cases that have set precedents in these areas.

Course ID: AMBI 619
This course explores ethical, legal and policy issues related to mental health and illness. The perspective the course adopts is that of a practitioner whether attorney, clinician or policy maker actively engaged in some dimension of clinical care. The good of the patient within a fiduciary relationship is the starting and ending point for all ethical, legal and policy questions and concerns in mental health treatment. Ethical norms, professional codes, regulations and statutes, institutional and government policies should be evaluated in terms of their adequacy and integrity in promoting the welfare of mental health patients who have unique strengths and vulnerabilities that require mental health practitioners to have equally specialized knowledge and skills. Concepts and realities of power and risk are more pervasive, prominent, and profound in mental health care than in any other area of bioethics and like at the heart of the difficult dilemmas encountered in the microcosm of clinical care and court cases and the macrocosm of policy formation and implementation and legislative and regulatory action we will examine in this course.

Course ID: AMBI 628

Description: This course will explore issues of equity, justice, and inclusion in scientific research, particularly in settings of social inequality. Drawing on the history and anthropology of science as well as bioethics, the course examines how researchers, clinicians, and research participants in diverse contexts understand and navigate the ethical obligations of research, and the benefits and burdens of research participation. We will use case studies from genomics, global health research, and prison research to understand barriers to equity and inclusion and explore how contexts of structural inequality shape scientific inquiry and findings. We will also consider current thinking on methods for designing and conducting scientific research that is just, equitable, and inclusive.

Elective Course Descriptions

Course ID: AMBI 602
Until recently, human genetics focused on rare, single-gene disorders and the occasional quirky inherited trait. That has changed radically with the new millennium, as we have learned the entire human genome sequence and are beginning to glimpse how it varies. Attention is increasingly focused on the more common illnesses that reflect the input of many genes as well as the environment. Ironically, at the same time, everyday language reflects genetic determinism, the idea that we are our genes -- she has "the gene for" something or "it's in his DNA." The relevance of this new view of human genetics to bioethics is that it brings this once fairly obscure field to everyone. We encounter genetics not only in the traditional medical setting, but in the many direct-to-consumer tests that purport to do everything from catching a cheating spouse to testing a child for inherited athletic prowess to tracing ancestry to predicting how we might die. On the clinical genetics front, diagnostics and prognostics are far outpacing therapeutics (gene and stem cell therapies).

Course ID: AMBI 605
This course addresses issues in bioethics from various cultural perspectives.  It examines degrees to which other cultures may view similar issues and topics as morally problematic.  It also explores ways in which cultures address and resolve moral tensions.  In view of the growing interest in examining bioethics within a global context, this course is especially relevant for U.S. health care with its patently diverse population of patients and health professionals.  In health care, cultural world views exert a conspicuously powerful influence that challenges the universality of Western medical ethical principles.  Moreover, disregarding, misinterpreting, and stereotyping other cultural health-views further sustains diminished and disparate health care services.  Now that U.S. health care and regulatory measures underscore the importance of cultural competence, there is an explicit need to enhance cultural sensitivity through appropriate knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Students are not encouraged to adopt any particular ethical position or view but rather gain an ability to review and analyze the reasons that support various norms and opinions in the new and exciting frontier of intercultural bioethics.

Course ID: AMBI 606
Bioethical debate often centers upon questions of individual decision-making. Fairness, an important concept, is often presented only in connection to scarce resources, personal or cultural values, while ultimate questions of fairness --questions of social justice-- tend to be left to the realm of policy and politics. More recently, bioethicists have taken up the question of public health priorities and the social determinants of health within the bioethics domain. Scholars in public health, similarly, have not only tackled the issue of social injustice but have also tried to elucidate the ethical challenges that follow. This course aims to first raise a discussion about health and justice as large concepts. It then addresses the question of the social determinants of health and the public health infrastructure. The conclusion of the course is a discussion of discrete topics in the intersection of health and social injustice.

Course ID: AMBI 608
Medications impact the quality of life of innumerable people; patients and health care providers face ethical dilemmas involving medication use daily. Decisions to use medications often fail to include a thorough analysis of the ethics involved—a complete understanding of the benefits and burdens entailed. Topics for analysis and case study that include pain medications, addiction, medical marijuana, family planning, matters of conscience, allocation of scarce resources, end-of-life situations, marketing and development, and genetics offer students an opportunity to explore the challenging ethical, legal, and public policy dilemmas involved in medication use today. Foundational ethical principals and models are emphasized throughout the course.

Course ID: AMBI 615
This course exposes you to the enduring ethical challenges facing the business of medicine and “medical-industrial complex” that are unique to the United States. This course interweaves practical/applied case studies with philosophical/theoretical analysis to equip you with a more nuanced and reflective understanding of the ethical, legal, and policy challenges facing the health care business, including: the tensions among costs, profits, and justice in the delivery of health care, especially in the context of end-of-life care; specific challenges facing hospital administrators and managers around issues of employment and labor; patients’ rights, stewardship of resources, and service to the community; research and marketing practices of the pharmaceutical industry; and the impact of commercialization on the medical profession and patient experience.

Course ID: AMBI 617
This course addresses a range of issues in public health ethics. The first part of the course will introduce ethical frameworks and concepts relevant to public health. It also describes the overlap and distinctions between public health and medical ethics. Students will use a case-based approach to address ethical dilemmas.

Course ID: AMBI 618
This course will focus both on the ethics of neuroscience and the neuroscience of ethics. During the course we will discuss, the ethical implication of memory manipulation, the impact of brain imaging on mental privacy, the permissibility of the use of cognitive enhancement, brain death, and issues related to disorders of consciousness. This course will emphasize issues that have application to clinical and research settings, such as criteria for brain death or the permissibility of prescribing cognitive enhancers.

Course ID: AMBI 624
This course will focus on a study of the classic cases that have shaped and defined the fields of medical ethics and bioethics. By critically reading, discussing and writing about these classic cases, students will get a sound overview of the field of bioethics. This includes a basic understanding the full range of topics from the main areas of bioethics including end of life care, abortion, embryonic stem cells, human and animal research, organ transplantation, involuntary commitment, genetic testing, global epidemics to social justice and ethical theory. Students will achieve an advanced, baseline proficiency in basic knowledge about the range of topics of bioethics and in the specialized skills of understanding and using ethical theory and philosophical analysis and argumentation. By learning the historical accounts of problem or paradigm cases, students will gain a multi-disciplinary perspective characteristic of contemporary bioethics. This perspective brings to bear, in addition to the historical context, an appreciation for ethical problems at the intersection of philosophical ethics, law and public policy.

Course ID: AMBI 625
The clinical ethics consultation intensive will provide an opportunity for advanced bioethics students to gain mastery in the area of clinical ethics consultation. Students will participate in ethics consultations and discuss and analyze past cases handled by the Albany Med Health System consultation service. The students will be encouraged to learn how to formulate recommendations by exploring the values and concerns of patients, families, and health care providers. This is a two-week hybrid course that will be conducted in‐person at Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany Medical College at the Albany Med Health System in Albany, NY and virtually on the Sakai learning platform. Pre-Reqs: 503, 505, 603, 604

Course ID: AMBI 627
This course will cover some of the major topics in research ethics, particularly research involving human participants. The course will be focused on the ethical justification of human participation in research, models of research ethics oversight, research with human samples, the distinction between public health practice and clinical research. In addition, during the course, we will consider the concept of vulnerability, conflicts of interest in clinical research, and ethical issues surrounding recruitment of participants.
Pre-Reqs: AMBI 506

Course ID: AMBI 721
This course will provide students with knowledge and practical skills used in policy and program development. Bioethics and policy are intimately intertwined, but very few bioethicists have actually drafted different policies. Bioethicists may play a major role in informing ethical policies around health care, public health, science, and clinical and research ethics, but a policy analyst within a government or non-government organization will draft the actual policy and develop a program to support the initiative. Students will gain insight and develop practical skills in policy analysis and development and how programs can be created to support policy initiatives. Specifically, students will be able to understand and critically analyze laws, regulations, guidelines, and institutional policies; define key policy concepts including issue identification, risk assessment, risk perception, options development, cost-benefit analysis, and policy implementation; learn how to conduct consultations; learn how to write a policy brief; and understand different policy enforcement programs and strategies and how to evaluate them.