How to Become a Clinical Ethicist

How to Become a Clinical Ethicist

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

Most clinical ethicists come from a interdisciplinary background including clinical experience and education in religious studies, philosophy, law, or theology.

Although some universities have begun offering undergraduate bioethics degrees, many still do not, so it's important to consult with an academic adviser.

They can assist with creating a curriculum that will best meet the needs of an aspiring clinical ethicist.

The preparation timeline below outlines the suggested courses:

Grade Level Example Courses
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • College Algebra & Statistics
  • Introduction to Kinesiology
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Statistics
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology II
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Applied Kinesiology
  • Athletic Care & Prevention
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Nutrition for Atheletes
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Lower Body Injury Evaluation
  • Athletic Training Clinical I & II
  • Exercise Testing
  • Upper Body Injury Evaluation
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Health in the US
  • Health Education & Planning
  • Healthcare Management
  • Health Policy
  • Capstone
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

However, if you wish to become a registered nurse, physician, or health administrator, positions in clinical ethics will also be available to you without further qualifications. Attorneys specializing in health law may also pursue a position as a clinical ethicist.

2. Take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) or GRE (Graduate Requisite Exam) or LSAT (Law School Admission Test)

Different universities or programs will require different exams for entry. To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.

The MCAT is divided into four sections:

Section Section Breakdown
Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics
Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology
Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills
  • 52 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes
  • Tess reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences

You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the MCAT website. If you are unsatisfied with your score on any of the aforementioned exams, you are free to retake them. Depending on the school, some will average your scores and others will simply take your most recent.

The GRE is a 6-section, 4-hour comprehensive exam that is broken down as follows:

Section Section Breakdown
1 Analytical Writing Section
  • 2 writing assignments
  • 60 minutes
  • Tests student's abilities to assess arguments and communicate ideas.
2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections
  • 20 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes per section
  • Tests student's abilities to solve mathematical problems and interpret data.
2 Verbal Reasoning Sections
  • 20 questions per section
  • 30 minutes per section
  • Tests the ability to understand and analyze written material
1 Unscored Section
  • A duplicate of one of the above sections

You can find study materials, GRE registration, and test scores on the GRE website.

The LSAT is a 5-section, 5-hour comprehensive exam that is broken down as follows:

Section Section Breakdown
2 Logical Reasoning Sections
  • 25 multiple-choice questions each
  • 35 minutes per section
  • Tests ability to determine main points of arguments, apply logic, find relevant information, and analyze arguments
1 Analytical Writing Section
  • 25 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes
  • Tests ability to draw inferences, understand effects of rules on outcomes, determine relationships, and apply logic
1 Reading Comprehension Section
  • 27 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes
  • 4 long passages
  • Tests ability to determine main ideas, find information, and to understand dense texts
1 Essay Section
  • Tests ability to build an argument based on given facts and use English to express ideas

You can find study materials, LSAT registration, and test scores on the LSAT website.

3. Complete Graduate School (2 - 7 Years)

Clinical ethics has become a more widely sought after program in recent years, as universities are following suit by offering graduate programs in bioethics and other related field.

Students may choose to pursue a master's or Ph.D. in bioethics, or a J.D. specializing in health law. Those wanting to go further into the medical field, but leave clinical ethicist on the table as a possible option, may want to pursue medical school in another profession.

There are many avenues to becoming a bioethicist, so choosing the path for you may be the most difficult aspect.