Values, Obligations and Rights: Health Care Ethics

Course Author: Sue Wintz, M.Div., BCC

Self Guided

This course, is designed to introduce the concepts of biomedical ethics and assist the foundational level chaplain in understanding and applying those concepts to daily professional practice. It includes information on how diverse beliefs and values due to cultural, religious, spiritual, and/or existential beliefs may impact a patient or family’s experience and decision-making. Chaplains are in the unique position of serving as mediators and facilitators in the interaction of and care for patients, families, and staff. This course will explore the ethical issues in health care, including the nuanced applications of ethical principles and theories in a case study example.

By the end of this course the learner will be able to:

  • Describe the four ethical principles of respect, justice, nonmaleficence, and beneficence.
  • Identify the ethical and moral challenges that may occur in relation to health care.
  • Articulate the role of religious, spiritual, existential, and cultural factors in ethical discussions in health care.
  • Describe the role of the chaplain when ethical situations arise, including assessment, interventions, and documentation.Identify the importance of and how to secure information on faith tradition directives regarding medical interventions such as termination of pregnancy, use of certain medications or ingredients, provision, withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining treatments.
  • Recognize interventions to respect and advocate for the development of plans of care that accurately incorporates the patient or surrogate’s stated beliefs, values, culture, and preferences without inserting one’s own beliefs.
  • Identify the components of an ethics referral and the role of an ethics committee and consult.

Course Outline

  1. Introduction to medical/health care ethics
  2. Four principles III. Medical decision making
  3. Life-prolonging medical interventions
  4. Medical futility VI. Palliative sedation
  5. Role of the professional chaplain
  6. When the culture avoids ethical issues
  7. Clinical ethics consultation service
  8. Advocating for the Role of Chaplains in Ethics Consults and Committees
  9. Summary


Number of Continuing Education Hours for Spiritual Care for Nurses: 27.7

Continuing Nursing Education contact hours are provided in partnership with the Westberg Institute. The Spiritual Care Association Nursing Division is accredited as a provider of nursing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

Number of Continuing Education Hours for Spiritual Care for Social Workers: TBA

This activity is pending approval from the National Association of Social Workers.