About the Program

The Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ethics is designed for working health care professionals including physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, patient advocates and patient representatives, risk managers, hospital administrators, health care attorneys, and others.

The goal of the educational program is simple: to provide the student with the tools to help build the best possible strategies for managing the ethical issues that arise almost daily in a rapidly changing and increasingly challenging health care system.

The Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ethics is made up of four courses, three of which are online and one seven-day on-site Capstone course taught at the Albany Medical College campus. These courses can be applied toward the Alden March Bioethics Institute's Master's of Science in Bioethics.

For more information about the Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ethics, please contact our Coordinator of Graduate Studies at [email protected] or 518-262-9396.


The curriculum is grounded in the educational core competencies of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH). The program consists of three online courses and one synchronized virtual class course. The three online, asynchronous courses—Fundamentals in Clinical Ethics (AMBI 503), Law and Bioethics (AMBI 505), and the Online Practicum in Clinical Ethics (AMBI 603)—are preparatory courses that focus on bedside clinical ethics.

The final course—Clinical Ethics Capstone (AMBI 604)—allows for practical training in clinical ethics skills in an intensive eight-day seminar. During the Capstone, students participate in competency-based interview and discussion scenarios that are simulated with standardized patients to enhance communication skills and in conversations with practicing clinicians about ethics issues that present in patient care. The competency-based interviews and discussions are offered through the Upstate New York Patient Safety and Clinical Competency Center at Albany Medical Center. This certificate is done 100% online.

Please note: this program must be started in the Fall term.

Course NameNumberLength
Fundamentals in Clinical Ethics AMBI 503Asynchronous
Law and BioethicsAMBI 505Asynchronous
Online Practicum in Clinical EthicsAMBI 603Asynchronous
Clinical Ethics CapstoneAMBI 6048 days

Course Descriptions

Course ID: AMBI 503
This course is a comprehensive overview of the history of ethics committees, ethics consultation process and the topics which commonly arise in today’s practice setting .Information gathering, identifying different points of view, defining the dilemma, talking to the parties involved, negotiating goals and analysis of the case will be covered, culminating in a comprehensive write-up that can be utilized by the practitioners involved. The following topics will be covered: consultation process, goals of care, case analysis skills, futility, capacity, artificial nutrition, withholding and withdrawing life support, advance directives, informed consent, reproductive issues, and running family meetings.

Course ID: AMBI 505
This course provides an introduction to the major legal issues and concepts arising in the field of bioethics: clinical decision-making, informed consent, organ donation and transplantation, physician assisted suicide, ethics in managed care, death and dying, and medical research.

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.