CBSSM Education

Nurturing Future Interdisciplinary Researchers and Ethicists

CBSSM’s ethics education service provides classroom and bedside instruction in theoretical and applied clinical and research ethics to students, trainees, and interprofessional health care team members. In addition, CBSSM sponsors a variety of research education initiatives designed to support junior researchers (both clinicians and non-clinicians) interested in pursuing interdisciplinary, empirical research on (a) understanding and improving the health care communication and decisions made by both patients and providers and/or (b) a wide range bioethics and clinical ethics topics.

Ethics Education Service

An important mission of CBSSM is to extend the ethics education medical students receive at the University of Michigan. Our current curriculum efforts are focused on enriching the existing curriculum and on making instruction on medical ethics for undergraduate medical students at UM more systematic and focused. Our goal is to increase medical student interest in ethics and their competence in recognizing and resolving ethical issues. Our strategy is to weave ethics into the curriculum throughout the 4 years of training in a way that allows students to build upon what they know of ethical theory and to apply that knowledge to their clinical practice. Additionally, given CBSSM faculty expertise, our aim is to create novel ethics curriculum components that incorporate our empirical work in bioethics and our particular expertise in decision science.

CBSSM faculty members support medical school ethics core curriculum in multiple seminars/clinical rotations. Ethics faculty members provide course content in the area of research ethics in the M1 year. Some of the CBSSM faculty serve as doctoring faculty and this course covers content related to ethics in the M1 year. Students also work with CBSSM ethics instructors in the second year on a course that changes yearly (Health Systems Science course) but has included book clubs on ethics and a course this year on narrative medicine. In the clerkships, students participate in required ethics sessions for emergency medicine and OB/gyn rotations that are taught by CBSSM faculty members.

Research Education

A key part of CBSSM is its culture of encouraging interdisciplinary research collaborations and of mentoring junior researchers in research projects large or small. In particular, CBSSM supports collaborations between clinician scientists who are experts in their clinical specialty and social scientists who are experts in the full range of empirical social science methodologies that are relevant to studying medical and ethical decision making. Our Bioethics Grand Rounds, Seminar Series, and annual Research Colloquium are all designed to create opportunities for such cross-disciplinary research. Our weekly Working Group meetings enable researchers to get constructive feedback on in-progress research from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives. Our faculty and staff are well known for helping researchers follow best practices in survey design and implementation.

CBSSM’s Postdoctoral Fellowship program provides intensive mentorship of junior researchers in both decision sciences and empirical bioethics. We have a history of working with both PhD fellows looking to transition into medical topics and clinical fellows seeking intensive methodological mentoring in their fellowship research projects. CBSSM faculty also provide additional instruction in both survey methods and shared medical decision making as part of the IHPI Clinical Scholars program.

Postdoctoral research fellowship

CBSSM Clinical Ethics Service has successfully developed a first-in-kind predoctoral clinical ethics fellowship for medical students, providing hands-on training and exposure to the next generation of ethicists. Students serve six months full-time on the clinical service and participate in proactive ethics rounds, ethics consultation, as well as research and education.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to performing consult intakes, interviewing relevant parties, EMR documentation, presenting cases to the adult and pediatric hospital ethics committees, participating in proactive ethics rounds, and serving as a teaching assistant for the online ethics course and rotating learners. Students will work closely with the clinical and faculty ethicists who rotate through the service. Travel and funding opportunities for research conducted during the fellowship may be provided.

Fellows who successfully complete the program will meet national standards for ethics consultants and will be prepared to take the ASBH Healthcare Ethics Consulting Certification (HEC-C) exam (Feder J Clin Ethics 2021).

Time spent with the CBSSM Clinical Ethics Service is concurrent with the medical school curriculum and does not require a leave of absence. Applicants must currently be enrolled and in good standing at the University of Michigan Medical School and have completed core clinical clerkships. Students must maintain their status as a medical student (M3/M4) during the entire period of the fellowship. The course meets clinical elective graduation requirements and includes intensive clinical, research, policy, and academic components with the goal of producing early career stage clinical ethics consultants. 

The call for applications is sent to all M2/M3 medical students in May of each year, with accepted students beginning the fellowship the following January. University of Michigan medical students interested in applying to become clinical ethics fellows can contact Dr. Janice Firn, [email protected] for more information.

The Path of Excellence in Ethics is a co-curricular, longitudinal program for medical students that has been running for over a decade. The program involves six small group discussion sessions in the M1 year and one-on-one mentoring for the remainder of medical school culminating in the completion of a capstone for impact project. The Path is intended to cultivate the ethics committee members of the future and promote scholarly activity in the field of ethics. This occurs through mentorship with advisors, participation in ethics committee meetings and consultation services, didactic/discussion sessions, and participation in ethics events/lectures. Medical students and house officers who desire additional clinical ethics experience can complete an in depth 2- or 4-week clinical ethics elective with CBSSM Clinical Ethics Service.

Link to medical school page

Ethics education integration:

CBSSM faculty members direct and support the Ethics Path of Excellence, thereby fulfilling an important role in supporting the core content and educational efforts of the medical school. We are also integrated into other types of educational initiatives within the health system including post-graduate residency and interprofessional educational programs (social work and public health for example). CBSSM is also integrated into undergraduate education including undergraduate courses and interest groups. We serve the community at large in supporting the high schools through the high school ethics bowl and outreach at other regional high schools and events.

The Research Ethics Service co-chiefs also provide face-to-face research ethics and integrity training through the Responsible Conduct of Research for K Awardees (RCR4K) course. This annual course, offered through the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR), is a 6 session (2-hour per session) seminar. It explores the responsible conduct of research for early career faculty members who have been awarded a career development award by their institution, the NIH, or other entity. The co-chiefs also provide didactic education in research ethics on an ad hoc basis for learners across the Medical School.

Research ethics also teaches a quarterly 2.5-hour training session called “Informed Consent for Research Professionals as well as an intensive 18-month “Legal Rules and Ethical Issues for Clinical Research” course for clinicians receiving a Master’s degree in research in partnership with the School of Public Health.