The CEP provides a personalized educational program that allows professionals and their organizations, as well as interested members of the community, to develop background and expertise in clinical ethics and organizational ethics. The Program educates institutional representatives to become ethics resource persons within their organizations and assists them in designing and implementing an ethics education plan to meet their organization’s specific needs. For all participants, including individual members, the CEP provides education in healthcare ethics—clinical and organizational—health policy issues, and policy development through a variety of formats:
- Bioethics Boot Camp: This one-day program provides an introduction to the basic concepts found in bioethics literature and is designed to prepare participants to engage in CEP programming that is more specialized, advance, or applied to particular areas of clinical or organizational ethics.
- Fall Conference: This intensive, yet informal conference features faculty from local universities and national scholars, who address a range of healthcare ethics issues—some foundational, some emerging.
- Spring Conference: This conference focuses on a particular topic or theme in healthcare ethics and draws upon the expertise of University of Pittsburgh clinicians, researchers, bioethicists, and health law faculty, as well as national speakers.
- Seminar Series: Three full-day seminars, offered at intervals throughout the year, are designed to provide background on ethical issues to participants, and include skill-focused workshop sessions to teach participants to develop ethics policy and continuing education programming for their organizations. These seminars are designed to build from foundational knowledge and skills toward more advanced understanding and ability.
Institutions and organizations have access to educational programming tailored to their needs, for example, addressing particular units, their ethics committee members, or all of their personnel.
- On-site Programming: The CEP offers institutional members on-site continuing ethics education programs designed to meet the needs of the organization and help expand ethics awareness. These programs can be for ethics committee members, particular units, or the entire organization.
- Webinars: Distance learning is provided at quarterly intervals to afford additional on-site ethics education opportunities.
History of the Consortium Ethics Program
The CEP began as a pilot program for 12 acute-care hospitals in 1990 with a grant from the Vira I. Heinz Endowment to the Center for Bioethics & Health Law. Since 1996, the program has been self-sufficient and is currently supported by member institutions and individual members. The Program’s institutional membership has grown to have a more diverse profile that includes health systems, hospice facilities, in-home healthcare, and regional hospitals serving urban and rural communities.
The Program’s early history as a pilot and demonstration project in healthcare ethics education is documented in two articles appearing in HEC Forum, first in 1995 and again in 1999. The Program resulted from the collaboration of Alan Meisel, JD; Lisa Parker, PhD; and Rosa Lynn Pinkus, PhD, who served as the program’s Director until 2013. The program enjoyed the administrative support of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine and is housed within the Center for Bioethics & Health Law.
Several nationally recognized bioethicists began their careers working in the CEP. Mark Kuczewski, PhD, the first Associate Director of the CEP, is now the Fr. Michael I. English, S.J., Professor of Medical Ethics and Director of the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy at Loyola University, Chicago. He is also a past president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH). The 1999 casebook he co-authored with Dr. Pinkus is now in its second edition: An Ethics Casebook for Hospitals: Practical Approaches to Everyday Ethics Consultations (Georgetown University Press, 2018, with Katherine Wasson, PhD, MPH).
The second Associate Director of the CEP was Mark Aulisio, PhD, who is now Susan E. Watson Professor and Chair of the Department of Bioethics at Case Western University. He served as executive director of the ASBH task force that issued the report Core Competencies for Health Care Ethics Consultation (ASBH, 1998), and was project director for the Greenwall Foundation / ASBH project that sought to develop education and training guidelines for those doing ethics consultation. James Dwyer, PhD, currently Professor of Bioethics and Humanities at Upstate Medical University, served as the third Associate Director during his tenure in Pittsburgh.
In 2014, pediatric surgeon and bioethicist Aviva Katz, MD, MA, became the Director of the CEP. Dr. Katz served as Chair of the Committee on Bioethics of the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as Director of the Ethics Consultation Service at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Vice Chair of the University of Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board. She served as Director of the CEP until her death in January 2018. A graduate of the CEP and former member of its Advisory Board, Maryanne Fello, RN, BSN, MEd, who spent much of her career as Director of Forbes Hospice, the first hospice established in Western Pennsylvania, briefly acted as the Program’s director in 2018.