Despite the fact that ethics consultations are an accepted practice in most healthcare organizations, many clinical ethicists continue to feel marginalized by their institutions. They are often not paid for their time, their programs often have no budget, and institutional leaders are frequently unaware of their activities. One consequence has been their search for concrete ways to evaluate their work in order to prove the importance of their activities to their institutions through demonstrating their efficiency and effectiveness.
Most organizations and/or their sub-units like ethics programs want to acquire the knowledge, skills and other resources needed to achieve their goals efficiently and effectively. Thus, they want to acquire or develop needed capacity. But there are pre-conditions to building capacity that are often overlooked or forgotten, but which nevertheless, must be in place before capacity can be developed. This essay identifies these pre-conditions and discusses why they are necessary before attempts are made to enhance the capacity of any ethics (...) program. The essay closes by offering a series of questions that ethics program leaders/and or members can asked themselves to assess whether or not these pre-conditions exist. (shrink)