MED661G.01 (Reno)
Clinical Ethics

Office of Medical Education

  • Course Name: Clinical Ethics
  • Short Name: Clinical Ethics
  • Course Number: MED661G.01
  • Location: Reno
  • Department: Office of Medical Education: Reno
  • Type: Non-Clinical
  • Length: Available in Fall (2 non clinical credits) or Spring (2 non-clinical credits). It may also be taken for Scholarly Concentration in Clinical Ethics (both Spring & Fall/longitudinal (4 non-clinical credits).
  • Preceptor: Robert J. Fulbright, J.D., M.A.

Please contact the Office of Medical Education: Reno to verify elective availability.


  • Students will write a case consultation with practical ethical recommendations to the medical team.
  • Gain familiarity with the operation of a hospital ethics committee.
  • Demonstrate understanding of situations that may require an ethics consultation and the various processes followed by different ethics committees.
  • Completion of a scholarly project centered around clinical ethics, of the student’s choosing - Scholarly Concentration only.

Description of Rotation

Medicine is naturally filled with ethically challenging situations given the different perspectives, rights, and obligations within our health care system. A general understanding of accepted ethical principles is a useful tool for any physician. This is true whether a physician is acting as the patient's provider or a member of an ethics committee.  

Students will be taught the Four Box Method, developed by Jonsen, Siegler and Winslade, in order to gather information necessary for ethical analysis.  Students will write a case consultation with recommendations for the medical team after gaining understanding of the Four Box Method.  This course will also focus on the rights and obligations of all parties, including the patient, the agent or surrogate, and the medical team.  Understanding the difference between positive and negative rights is necessary when individual rights appear to be in conflict. Ethically challenging situations within our health care system, and society, are endless.  However, a well functioning ethics committee does not pontificate from their philosophical armchair, rather, their goal is to offer practical guidance that takes into account relevant ethical considerations. The student will also become familiar with the operations of a hospital ethics committee by attending two ethics meetings as well as an ethics consultation if one is available for attendance and participation.

For those also doing the Scholarly Concentration in Clinical Ethics, the rotation will culminate with a final scholarly project centered around clinical ethics.


  • Jerome Groopman, How Doctors Think
  • Albert Jonsen, Mark Siegler and William J. Winsade, Clinical Ethics: A Practical Approach to Ethical Decisions in Clinical Medicine
  • Other selected readings

Evaluation Method

Students are required to complete all reading, writing, meeting, and presentation assignments. Students will be evaluated on the standard UNR Med Elective Clinical Performance form.


  • Honors: An exceptional performance which exceeds all course objectives
  • High Pass: A performance which exceeds most course objectives
  • Pass: A performance which meets the course objectives
  • Fail: A performance which does not meet the course objectives

Special Notes

Can be applied to the Scholarly Concentration in Clinical Ethics.
160 hours, flexible over the year