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Masters Degree in Health Care Ethics

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Health care providers, patients, and family members frequently face critical ethical issues when confronting illness, suffering and death in the health care setting. What guides a health care practitioner’s decision to save or let die, or a patient’s right to live or be allowed to die? Who has the right to make end-of-life decisions regarding incompetent patients? What is the ethical use of stem cells technology? What moral principles need to be considered when dealing with social issues such as the international trade in medical services, medical goods, and the allocation of scarce health care resources?

The discipline of Health Care Ethics plays a vital role in conducting research, advising, and designing policies to improve the ethical quality of health care in the increasing complex milieu of global health care practice and delivery.

Health Care Ethics within a given society are shaped by guiding principles rooted in theology, philosophy, and laws. Important legal cases involving health care issues, such as Roe v. Wade, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the human fetus is considered only a potential person and is not accorded any civil rights under the Constitution, or the Nancy Cruzan case in 1983 that dealt with the right to make decisions on behalf of incompetent patients, which ultimately led to the development of advance directives, often influence the development of health care ethics policies.

Technological advances in health care provide longer and richer lives to millions of people, but they also give rise to additional ethical issues that lead to reshaping health care decision making and policies. Health ethicists are often involved in legislative efforts. From writing amicus briefs on court cases, to serving on local, state, and national advisory panels, to sponsoring legislative bills, health ethicists have worked for legislative change related to issues such as cloning, stem cell research, end of life care, and many more.

Healthcare institutions in the U.S. and around the world face an increasing demand for professionals who can analyze complex ethics cases and policies, facilitate ethical decision-making, and effectively teach colleagues and students. Health Ethicists work in a growing variety of settings including medical schools, health care facilities, universities and colleges, governments, non-governmental organizations, nursing schools, public health schools, allied health schools, law schools, private practice, community colleges, dental schools, and community health agencies.

Pursue a Master of Science (M.S.) in Health Care Ethics degree online

The online Master of Science in Health Care Ethics degree is offered through the Center for Health Policy and Ethics (CHPE) at Creighton University, a top tier Jesuit university founded in Omaha in 1878, and ranked #1 among comprehensive Midwestern universities in U.S. News & World Report for 13 consecutive years.

This online degree program is ideal for the career professional looking to bring value-added components to their current position and is relevant for: physicians, nurses, hospital administrators, pharmacists, lawyers and occupational and physical therapists, as well as a number of other health care-related positions. This program may also provide a transition opportunity for professionals interested in transitioning into the health care industry.

Graduates of the online Master of Science in Health Care Ethics degree program will possess a comprehensive understanding of the field of bioethics as well as a deeper understanding of the impact of relevant historical, cultural, philosophical, political, economic and legal issues in health care practices and policies, and their impact on vulnerable populations.

Upon completion of the program, graduates will be able to:

  • Understand the complexities of the myriad ethical problems and controversies in today’s health care environment, especially those concerning vulnerable populations
  • Apply ethical principles and theories to problems and issues in health care and provide justification for a particular course of action in response
  • Facilitate open discussion among diverse individuals in ethically complex situations
  • Design educational tools and policies to improve the ethical quality of health care

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