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The Role of Miami Dade College in Developing a Website focusing on Ethics in Healthcare and in Collaborative Efforts with UVSAC and Sunny-Plattsburgh to Promote Ethics Across the Curriculum as funded by FIPSE.

Miami Dade College
Medical Campus
950 NW 20 th Street
Miami, Florida 33127

Introductory Overview

This grant supports the development of the Miami Dade College (MDC) Institute for Ethics in Health Care and its related web site The web site has logged in over 80,000 visitors. A case study to help faculty teach ethical decision-making was written. The format was developed as a collaborative effort among the FIPSE partners, Miami Dade College, Utah Valley State and Plattsburgh State University of New York. The Institute’s activities have included presentations to over 1000 MDC students and faculty. A major, and unanticipated, accomplishment was the development of the Ethics in Health Care Teaching Primer found on the web site.


Rapid changes in scientific knowledge, medical technology, and health care management have resulted in unexpected dilemmas for health care professionals, students, and faculty. The dilemmas are becoming even more complex as the ethnic composition of the nation shifts. Nowhere are the ethical issues more apparent than in Miami, Florida, a community considered to be a bellwether for pending demographic change across the country and an international leader in medical research. Miami’s health care professionals are tackling new ethical issues that other more homogeneous areas of the country do not yet face.

Research has shown that education is the greatest influence on ethical decision-making. Charged with preparing students to enter health care professions and treat patients whose own systems of beliefs and values may differ from those of the caregiver, academic institutions like the Medical Campus must have a faculty well-versed in teaching ethics who can introduce students in health care programs to principles of ethics, decision-making models, and the application of those models to specific situations.

Background and Origins

Teaching the application of ethical principles has not received adequate attention because faculty themselves either did not feel empowered to teach the subject or do not have sufficient knowledge. Of those who have the knowledge, many faculty do not have the skills to act on or recognize a “teachable moment” (in the clinical setting, for example) and take the opportunity to explore an ethical issue/dilemma or situation.

The College and Medical Campus were very supportive of the efforts needed for this endeavor. A nursing faculty member was given release time to become the Director of the Institute. Outside support includes: Georgie C. Labadie, RN, EdD, Professor, University of Miami School of Nursing; Kate Callahan, RN, PhD, Huntington Consulting Group; Pedro Greer, Jr. MD, FACP, FACG Assistant Dean, University of Miami School of Medicine; and Kenneth W. Goodman, PhD, Director, University of Miami Bioethics Program and Co-Executive Director Florida Bioethics Network who all agreed to serve on the Institute for Ethics Advisory Committee. Community support was essential to the success of the Institute. Collaboration and support from the Director of the Florida Bioethics Network/University of Miami Bioethics Program legitimized the Institute’s function in the community. The Institute served as a co-sponsor of the Conference for two years, members of the advisory committee participated in one of the sessions. The Institute Director, Florida Nurses Association Bioethics Chair, has participated in a Bioethics forum each year at the Florida Nurses Association Conventions since 1997 for a total of six presentations (three during the grant). The reports, and publication of an article in the Florida Nurse helped publicize the Institute’s mission as a community resource. The League for Innovation’s Transformational Learning Connections June, 2003 on line featured the Institute.

Project Description

Miami Dade College, Medical Campus (MDC, MCC) developed the Institute for Ethics in Health Care to address the challenges in ethical-decision making that affect students in nursing and allied health programs of study that lead to an associate degree. A web site focusing on ethics in health care was included as part of the Institute’s priorities. This web site was launched in July of 2001and has logged over 40,000 visitors each year. An Advisory Committee was appointed to work with the Institute. This committee developed a mission statement:

The mission statement developed by the Advisory Committee states:

The Mission of the Institute is to:
  • Create awareness in the community of ethical issues in health care.

  • Impart to faculty and students the skills and background needed to apply critical thinking and ethics in their disciplines.

  • Promote a forum through which skills and decision-making related to ethical issues in health care can be addressed.

  • Promote collaboration among disciplines.

The project achieved its original objectives: To:

  • Expose students and faculty in nursing and allied health programs to views different from their own in a learning forum.

  • Assist faculty to expand their ability to reinforce the teaching of ethics in all courses.

  • Assure that curricula at the MCC adequately addresses ethical decision making by increasing the faculty’s awareness and knowledge base.

  • Serve as a local and national ethics resource center.

A major, and unanticipated, accomplishment was the development of the Ethics in Health Care Teaching Primer. Visitors to the web site can use this power point presentation in their classes and have permission to print and duplicate it. The Primer can be used in total. It is also formatted in sections with objectives for versatility.

Evaluation/Project Results

The original proposal submitted to FIPSE was reduced in scope and funding. However, the College’s support along with additional funding from the Hugoton Foundation made it possible to not only develop and maintain the web site and collaborate with FIPSE partners but has enabled the College to create and sustain the MDC Institute for Ethics in Health Care. The Institute’s scope of activities and projects has not only benefited the College faculty and students but also has been shared as a resource to faculty and health care professionals at the state, local and national levels. Collaboration among faculty across disciplines truly integrated both Nursing and Allied Health faculty into the Institute’s activities. An outside consultant was contracted by the College for services to the Institute. Dr. Kate Callahan is an Advisory Committee and is very actively involved in the community. One of Dr. Callahan’s appointed positions is on the Dade County Public Health Trust. She brings with her knowledge and experience regarding the community’s health care issues and political climate, often the sources of ethical issues, dilemmas and case studies.

The web site has been a great addition to the College. The web site has been promoted at local, state, and national meetings. The College has supported a link from the Medical Campus home page that is very visible to all who go to the home page.

The Institute for Ethics In Health Care Primer has been a significant addition to the web site. This Primer contains over 85 power point slides and is offered free of charge. It has been divided into sections with specific objectives that can be downloaded for flexibility.

Summary, Conclusions and Lessons Learned

In conclusion, The Institute for Ethics in Health Care and the website have been a valuable resource to students, faculty and the community. Collaboration with the community is enhanced through appointments to the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is an active committee that assists with the work of the Institute. The Institute Mission and objective of the grant have all been implemented successfully.

Educators need to know that Institutional Support and “in kind” commitment is essential to the success of a project. Expenses, such as in kind professional support are needed. Examples include duplicating and graphic design of flyers, brochures, and publicity. Publicity in house to garner and maintain administrative support as well as publicity in the community is essential. Collaboration within the College and community partners is necessary. Networking with professional organizations and acceptance by them legitimizes the mission and objectives of the project and allows others to become knowledgeable and supportive.


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