The Utility of a Bioethics Doctorate: Graduates’ Perspectives

Journal of Medical Humanities 40 (4):473-487 (2019)
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Abstract

Each year, many young professionals forego advanced education in the traditional doctoral programs of medicine, law, and philosophy in favor of pursuing a PhD or professional doctorate in bioethics or healthcare ethics that is offered by several major institutes of higher education across the United States. These graduates often leverage their degrees into careers within the broader field of bioethics. As such, they represent a growing percentage of professional bioethicists in both academia and healthcare nationwide. Given the significant role that doctoral bioethics programs play in the training of future professional bioethicists, it is imperative that programs conferring bioethics degrees are attuned to the knowledge and skills students will need as they transition to professional positions, especially where this training substantially differs from more traditional doctoral degree tracks. Yet, even given this need, there is nothing in the professional literature regarding doctoral bioethics graduates’ perspectives or the overall efficacy of a bioethics doctorate as compared to more traditional doctoral degree tracks for future professional bioethicists. This paper then gives the perspective of five recent doctoral bioethics graduates on the utility of a bioethics doctorate and areas where the doctorate prepared or underprepared them in their roles as early-career professional bioethicists.

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Jordan Potter
University of Missouri, St. Louis

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