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Bioethics Focus

Students may also apply to the Penn Center for Bioethics for a MBE and a dual degree plan of study is then mutually developed with respective program faculty.

Year 1:


Health Care Reform & the Future of the American Health System

The U.S. health care system is the world’s largest, most technologically advanced, most expensive, with uneven quality, and an unsustainable cost structure. This multi-disciplinary course will explore the history and structure of the current American health care system and the impact of the Affordable Care Act. How did the United States get here? The course will examine the history of and problems with employment-based health insurance, the challenges surrounding access, cost and quality, and the medical malpractice conundrum.  As the Affordable Care Act is implemented over the next decade, the U.S. will witness tremendous changes that will shape the American health care system for the next 50 years or more. The course will examine potential reforms, including those offered by liberals and conservatives and information that can be extracted from health care systems in other developed countries. Throughout, lessons will integrate the disciplines of health economics, health and social policy, law and political science to elucidate key principles.  This course will provide students a broad overview of the current U.S. healthcare system. The course will focus on the challenges facing the health care system, an in-depth understanding of the Affordable Care Act, and its potential impact upon health care access, delivery, cost, and quality.


Introduction to Bioethics

This course is intended to serve as a broad introduction to the field of bioethics. The course focuses on three of the most important areas in bioethics: genetics and reproduction, human experimentation, and end-of-life care. Each module covers essential bioethics concepts, relevant legal cases, and classic readings on that theme.

Leadership Development in Healthcare

This course provides a conceptual and theoretical framework for examining the concepts of leadership, planned change and power/empowerment within selected environments; namely, health systems, health and public policy arenas, and professional and civil societies. Content focuses on characteristics of personal and professional leadership, places and types of leadership, theories of leadership and planned change processes and specific tools and practical experiences in leadership development.


Ethical Aspects of Health and Technology

Interdisciplinary approach to the study of the interface between ethics and law in the provision of health and illness care. This course draws upon the disciplines of philosophy, law, biomedical engineering and nursing in examining such concepts as the use/nonuse of biomedical technology, who and how one decides what shall be done for a given “patient,” and the “rights” and responsibilities (accountability) of all persons involved in health/illness care decisions. The interplay of ethical theory, personal value systems, law and technology will be stressed throughout. Lectures, seminars and case studies will be used.This course satisfies the Society & Social Structures Sector for Nursing Class of 2012 and Beyond.

Systems Thinking in Patient Safety

This blended online/in-classroom graduate level course integrates principles of systems thinking with foundational concepts in patient safety. Utilizing complexity theories, students assess healthcare practices and identify factors that contribute to medical errors and impact patient safety. Using a clinical microsystem framework, learners assess a potential patient safety issue and create preventive systems. Lessons learned from the science of safety are utilized in developing strategies to enhance safe system redesign. Core competencies for all healthcare professionals are emphasized, content is applicable for all healthcare providers including, but not limited to, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, social workers and healthcare administrators, and may be taken as an elective by non-majors.

Also offered as: HQS 650.

History, Health and Social Policy

This course explores the impact of historical ideas, events, and actors on current issues in health and illness care. Topics include the movement from hospitals to health care systems; the changing definitions of professionalism and professional practice patterns; and the ways historical context shapes definitions of leadership roles and theoretical knowledge.


Current Issues In Health and Social Policy

Analysis of key contemporary issues in health and social policy that will provide students with a deeper understanding of the design and structure of the U.S. health care system, the policy initiatives that have shaped it, and the roles of the government, the private sector, and consumers and advocacy groups in setting the policy agenda. Seminars will examine the origins of each issue, the policies enacted and their effects, both intended and unintended, and will propose and debate the merits of alternative policy solutions. The role of health services and policy research in informing the policy debate and directions will be highlighted.

Introduction to Research Methods and Design

The relationships among nursing theory, research and practice will be examined. An emphasis will be placed on research competencies for advanced practice nurses (APNs), including understanding nursing research methods and strategies in order to evaluate research results for applicability to practice and to design projects for evaluating outcomes of practice. An understanding of statistical techniques will be integrated into the course and build on the required undergraduate statistics course. Published nursing research studies will be evaluated for scientific merit and clinical feasibility, with a focus on evidence-based practice.

Advanced Roles in Administrative Nursing Practice

Offered at the end of the Nursing and Health Care Administration or Health Care Leadership programs, this course prepares the graduate for entry into a myriad of administrative or leadership roles. Students will explore role responsibilities for various levels of management positions; health care consultants; health policy advocates; global health leaders; staff development directors; and administrators in non-traditional settings i.e., journal editors, professional associations etc.

Year 2:


Bioethics Elective

Bioethics elective

Advanced Clinical Ethics

Since the 1960s, medical technology has rapidly expanded our capacity to intervene in peoples’ lives.  At the same time, profound changes in the health professions as well as in society at large have led to a renegotiation of the relationship between medicine and society.  The field of clinical ethics has worked to understand and to shape these radical changes.  Although the reality of human vulnerability to illness may not have changed over the millennia, who qualifies for personhood or what it means to respect human dignity have been up for debate.  In this advanced course in clinical ethics, we will explore key ethical debates across the entire life course.  We will emphasize an interdisciplinary approach that acknowledges a variety of health care providers’ experiences, and will consider some of the challenges in clinical decision-making for and with patients, such as rationing at the bedside and requests for assistance in ending a patient’s life.  We will also examine policies that impact clinical practice, including systems for organ allocation in transplantation.  We will draw upon theories from moral philosophy, clinical cases from our practices and from the media, and seminal legal cases to demonstrate the live ethical challenges of clinical practice today.


Negotiations in Healthcare

This course examines the process that leads to change in health care settings and situations. Students will develop skills that lead to effective negotiations in interpersonal and organizational settings. Included in the discussion are: concepts of organizational structure and power, negotiating in difficult situations, and the role of the health care professional in negotiation and change. The course also examines techniques leading to successful implementation of negotiated change in the practice setting.This course satisfies the Society & Social Structures Sector for Nursing Class of 2012 and Beyond.