Ethical Issues and Professionalism in Clinical Practice: Foundations, Communications, Conflict Resolution

September 23, 2022 to September 25, 2022

This conference will focus on current and cutting-edge issues that arise in the health care environment today. It is aimed at providing health care professionals with the frameworks and skills needed to identify and address ethical issues and concerns surrounding professionalism within their clinical practice.  A series of didactic and case-based presentations and discussions will be facilitated by prominent clinicians, bioethicists, and philosophers from the region.

Target Audience

Physicians, Nurses, Social Workers, Pastoral Care and other Health Care Professionals with an interest in healthcare ethics. 

Learning Objectives

At the end of this conference, participants should be able to: 
1.    Identify the frameworks and skills needed to identify and address ethical issues as they arise in the clinical setting;
2.    Describe various methods used in biomedical ethics, e.g., theory, principle-based methods and case-based methods to resolve ethical issues at the bedside;
3.    Apply the frameworks of autonomy, informed consent, decision making capacity and end of life decisions when working through ethical issues with a team and within their own clinical practice;
4.    Recognize how their own personal moral values and judgment can affect professional practice and interaction with patients, families and team members.

Additional Information

Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 12.50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
    The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
  • 12.50 ANCC
    UPMC Provider Unit is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation
  • 12.50 ASWB
  • 12.50 Attendance
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
Event starts: 
09/23/2022 - 11:00am EDT
Event ends: 
09/25/2022 - 12:00pm EDT

11:00 AM  Registration / Lunch
Sunburst Room

11:45 AM—12:00 PM  General Welcome and Introductions
Michael Deem and Jody Stockdill
Sunburst Room

12:00 PM– 1:00 PM  Professionalism and Ethical Communication
Jamie Watson, PhD, HEC-C
Abstract: Too often, what it means to be a medical professional is spelled out in policy language as part of compliance requirements. But medical professionalism has a rich ethical history, and in this presentation, I explain some key ethical implications of professionalism for health communication. I explain how health literacy research has revealed significant barriers to effective communication and how traditional communication problems grounded in disagreement and cultural differences have eroded the trust necessary for a healthy provider-patient relationship. I close with a discussion of how health literacy best practices and insights from bioethics can improve communication and help foster trust both at the bedside and in the communities we serve.
Sunburst Room

1:00 PM—1:05 PM  Break

1:05 PM—2:05 PM  The Ethics and Art of Chart Noting
Laura Guidry-Grimes, PhD, HEC-C
Abstract: The medical chart documents a particular story about the patient and their family, and the chart note author makes numerous decisions and value judgments in the process of prioritizing (and deprioritizing) certain information and choosing some language over others. The chart note is a powerful communication tool, and especially since the 21st Century Cures Act, it has important implications for the therapeutic relationship with the patient. This talk offers insights and techniques for minimizing bias, addressing patient vulnerability, and building a stronger therapeutic alliance through chart noting.
Sunburst Room

2:05 PM—2:20 PM  Break

2:20 PM—3:40 PM  Understanding the Theory and Practice of Clinical Bioethics: The Dax Cowart Legacy
Amy VanDyke, MSW, LSW, PhD
Abstract: this talk will explore the case of Dax Cowart—pivotal to the emerging field of bioethics and analyze the theoretical frameworks of bioethics which pre
dated Dax’s case and discuss how those frameworks have evolved in current medical and bioethics practice.
Sunburst Room

3:40 PM—3:50 PM  Break

3:50 PM—5:00 PM  The Tension of Truthtelling and the Awkwardness of Apology
John Welch, MDiv, PhD
Abstract: Patient transparency has been promoted by patient advocacy groups since the beginning of the 21st century. The balance of litigation and full disclosure has practically been the proverbial tightrope. How are medical professionals sacrificed and how is patient care compromised when disclosure is limited, and apologies are absent?
Sunburst Room

5:00 PM  Adjourn for the Day

7:00 PM—10:00 PM
OPTIONAL: CEP welcome gathering
Courtyard 1 Pavilion

8:00 AM  Continental Breakfast

8:30 AM—9:30 AM  Implicit Bias and How it Affects Healthcare Delivery
John Welch, MDiv, PhD
Abstract: Our thoughts and habits are informed by numerous external factors some of which lead to both conscious and unconscious biases. When we know better, we do better. But when we’re not aware, sometimes our actions can create irreparable harm, which is what medical professionals want to avoid.
Sunburst Room

Session 1A: Guardianship—What it Means and How it Works
Sarah Stockey, DHCE
Abstract: During the session we will review the NGA guidelines and ethical standards of practice for guardians, we will review and discuss when guardianship is necessary or appropriate and discuss the role and limitations of a guardian
Sunburst Room

Session 1B: Duty to Treat or Duty to Others? A Hobson’s Choice
David M. Korman, JD
Abstract: The conflicting mandates of maintaining client privacy and mandatory reporting of credible, significant harm to third parties place clinicians in a difficult ethical and legal position. Recent cases in Pennsylvania expand the clinician’s liability for not “warning about such dangers to third parties.” We will explore if there may be means other than disclosing a patient’s identity that might be appropriate, clinically efficacious, and limit legal exposure and liability.
Snowflake Room

10:30 AM—10:50 AM  Break
Session 2A: Ethics Simulation Training: Goals of Care—Intellectual Disability and Guardianship
Laura Guidry-Grimes, PhD, HEC
Abstract: In this simulation, participants will serve as the clinical ethics team that is consulted to assist with goals of care discussions by an ICU team. The patient, who is currently unconscious, has a lifelong intellectual disability and court-appointed guardian for decision-making. The patient has developed end-stage renal disease and there are questions regarding the patient’s continued course of treatment. The participants in this simulation will work together on the initial intake and conversations in this scenario and debrief with the facilitators.
Sunburst Room

Session 2B: Ethics Simulation Training: Refusal of Life-Saving Interventions
Jamie Watson, PhD, HEC-C
Abstract: In this simulation, participants will serve as the team of ethics consultants who are meeting with a patient who is refusing a life-saving intervention. While the physician would like to perform the intervention, the patient has decisional capacity and is adamantly refusing and wanting to leave the hospital. Participants will work together to identify the ethical concerns, lead a conversation to reveal relevant information, and formulate a care plan that respects both the physician’s responsibility to the patient and the patient’s right to refuse treatment.
Snowflake Room

12:15 PM—12:45 PM  LUNCH

12:45 PM—2:00 PM  Sticks, Carrots and Autonomous Choice: Ethical Issues in Influencing Patient Choice
Alex John London, PhD
Abstract: During this talk we will discuss ethical issues that arise from the project of trying to influence the choices that patients make while respecting their autonomy and avoiding the pitfalls of unjustified medical paternalism.
Sunburst Room

2:00 PM  Adjourn for Day

8:00 AM  Continental Breakfast

Session 3A: Personal Responsibility for Health: What Is Fair?
Alex John London, PhD
Abstract: During this session we will discuss a range of ethical issues that arise from proposals to use personal responsibility as a criteria for allocating health care resources.
Sunburst Room

Session 3B: Privacy & Confidentiality in the Healthcare Setting: Are They Possible in the Era of Tablets, Texts, and Tweets:
Amy VanDyke, LSW, PhD
Abstract: During this session we will explore the concepts of privacy and confidentiality within the clinical setting and explore the challenges to protecting patient privacy as well as potential exceptions to the obligation to keep patient information confidential within the healthcare setting.
Snowflake Room

9:30 AM—9:40 AM  Break

Session 4A: Assessing Decisional Capacity: How to Decide Who Decides
Sarah Stockey, DHCE
Abstract: Healthcare decision making can often be overwhelming for patients, families and medical providers. In this session we will compare and contrast capacity v. competency; discuss the role each plays in the decision making process and the conditions for deciding when a surrogate is/is not required and review the standards that a surrogate should follow in the decision making process.
Sunburst Room

Session 4B: Ethical Challenges in Palliative Care Across the Life Span
Marta Kolthoff, MD, MA
Abstract: This talk will explore ethical issues in palliative care through a comparison of the perinatal period and the end of adult life. Adult palliative care and principle-based ethics will be reviewed. Adult palliative care will be then compared to palliative care provided when there is a life-limiting fetal diagnosis. Limitations of principle-based ethics, clinical uncertainty, & impact of language will be addressed. Perinatal palliative care will be introduced and insights provided that may aid in ethical decision-making in adult palliative care.
Snowflake Room

10:40 AM—10:50 AM  Break

10:50 AM—11:50 PM  Law, Ethics and Moral Reasoning as an Instrument to Reconciliation
David M. Korman, JD
Abstract: Legal and ethical issues have always had a relationship with each other that everyone recognizes are not 100% identical. Perspectives on ethical and moral issues are increasingly diverse for a variety of sociological and demographical reasons. However, the laws of a democratic society are usually to be applicable to all members of society. The incongruence of individual moral positions with provisions of particular laws often leads to contention. We will examine some medical care issues where that debate has been very contentious and investigate how we might be able to tolerate the incongruence, even where we cannot reconcile the differences. “If tolerance is a virtue, should we be tolerant of those who we think are intolerant?”
Sunburst Room

11:50 PM—12:00 PM  Wrap up and Evaluation

12:00 PM  Conference Adjournment

Seven Springs Resort & Conference Center
Champion, PA 15622
United States

No members of the planning committee, speakers, presenters, authors, content reviewers and/or anyone else in a position to control the content of this education activity have relevant financial relationships with any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services, used on, or consumed by, patients to disclose. 

In support of improving patient care, the University of Pittsburgh is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

Physician (CME)
The University of Pittsburgh designates this live activity for a maximum of 12.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Nursing (CNE)
The maximum number of hours awarded for this Continuing Nursing Education activity is 12.5 contact hours.

Social Work
As a Jointly Accredited Organization, University of Pittsburgh is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved under this program. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. University of Pittsburgh maintains responsibility for this course. Social workers completing this course receive 12.5 continuing education credits.

Other health care professionals will receive a certificate of attendance confirming the number of contact hours commensurate with the extent of participation in this activity.

Available Credit

  • 12.50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
    The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
  • 12.50 ANCC
    UPMC Provider Unit is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation
  • 12.50 ASWB
  • 12.50 Attendance
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Please contact Jody Stockdill ( for any additional information.