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Posted: Friday, October 20th, 2017

Staff Clinical Ethicist

Thursday, November 30th, 2017
Medstar Washington Hospital Center

Washington , DC, United States

Norine McGrath

In 1982, John “Jack” Lynch, MD, established the ethics committee at the Washington Hospital Center. Soon after, he created the Center for Ethics (“the Center”), which was re-named for him in 2016. The mission of the Center is to help clinicians and other hospital professionals meet a standard of excellence in the care of our patients through education, consultation, policy development, attention to organizational ethics and scholarly pursuits in clinical bioethics.

The Center serves the patients, families, clinicians and greater communities of what is now MedStar Washington Hospital Center (MWHC) in Washington, DC. Our 900 bed, urban, not-for-profit teaching hospital provides opportunities to focus on the ethical aspects of care of our patients. As one of only two level 1 trauma centers in Washington, DC with nine intensive care units (ICUs) and one of the busiest cardiac programs in the country, our clinical providers care for some of the sickest, most medically and psycho-socially vulnerable patients that physicians and nurses ever see. The Center seeks to assist in improving outcomes for patients and families and to support those who provide care with the burdens of their responsibilities.

What We Do
A central responsibility of clinical ethicists in a hospital is to assist the clinical providers in deepening their own knowledge and ability to make ethically sound judgments about their patients care.

One of the primary ways in which the Center delivers education and training to clinical providers is by joining work rounds throughout the hospital. Once a week, an ethicist joins work rounds in the nine ICUs, several ICU step-down units, high-risk obstetrics program, and the advanced heart failure program.
By having a clinical ethicist join work rounds at the bedside, the Center’s clinical ethicists become familiar faces to the teams around the hospital. The presence of a clinical ethicist is an invaluable tool for education and relieves the moral distress that simply comes with the care of critically ill, highly complex patients.

Clinical Ethics Consultation
The CEC service is available to assist in addressing uncertainty, disagreement or conflict 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, conducting approximately 300 CECs a year. Each week, there is a primary and secondary consultant on call. The secondary is always ready to assist with over-flow or for discussion in real-time about a case. For particularly complex ethical cases, the full consultation service meeting is convened.


Is the staff member of the John J. Lynch Center for Ethics sharing primary responsibility for the John J. Lynch Center for Ethic’s Clinical Ethics Consultation Service. Serves as Administrator of the subcommittees, specifically at a minimum, the consultation, and education subcommittees. Provides support and ethical guidance to various subcommittees within the Medstar Washington Hospital Center (MWHC), Medstar Health, and to other organizations locally and nationally. Coordinates closely with all other members of the John J Lynch Center for Ethics on all Center functions. May speak as a MWHC ethics public representative and may serve on various community and national boards after coordinating with the Center Director about such appointments or volunteer positions. Reports to the Director of John J Lynch Center for Ethics.


1. Serves as a working member of the Washington Hospital Center’s Ethics Committee and its subcommittees, specifically the consultation and education subcommittees. Collaborates closely with relevant others within the MWHC, especially the Senior Clinical Ethicist and other members of the John J. Lynch Center for Ethics. As, needed, will assist in the administrative duties of assigned committees including creation of minutes, record keeping, agendas, charters, member communication, etc.

2. In conjunction with the Senior Clinical Ethicist, reviews and assists in development, revision, implementation, and maintenance of policies related to clinical and organizational areas requiring ethical guidance or oversight. Provides ethical guidance to committees / work groups as needed within the MWHC and beyond.

3. Organizes, coordinates, and implements the John J Lynch Center for Ethic’s Clinical Ethics Consultation Service, which provides 24 hr/365 day consultation in clinical ethics for patients and families, attending and resident staff physicians, nurses, social workers, administrators and others. Fulfills assigned call including 24hr availability on some weekdays, weekends and holidays. Responsible for the implementation of the Clinical Ethics Consultation Service and the education and training of the clinical ethics consultants. Coordinates and works closely with the Medstar Washington Hospital Center’s Ethics Committee and Consultation Subcommittee, the John J. Lynch Center of Ethics, and others within the Hospital. Also provides direct clinical ethics consultation. As a result, must be comfortable in clinical areas and with direct patient and family contact.

4. Provides ongoing ethics support to the other Medstar hospitals including potential consultations and education, at the discretion of the Director for the Lynch Center for Ethics. This may include teleconsults and on site activities.

5. Provides ongoing and ad hoc education on clinical ethics to MWHC attendings, residents, staff, nurses, clinical pastoral education students, social work students, visiting students, etc. Provides ongoing self-education program for the ethics committee and provides orientation for new members. *

6. Provides liaison services between the Center for Ethic’s Clinical Ethics Consultation Service, the Medstar Washington Hospital Center’s Ethics Committee and other departments and personnel within MWHC and MedStar Health, such as legal counsel, physicians, affiliated hospitals within Medstar Health and others.*

7. Provides support to other MedStar committees as assigned.

8. Contributes to publications emanating from the John J Lynch Center for Ethics. This includes the Journal of Hospital Ethics and ad hoc publications, such as books, journal articles/columns, and social media.

9. Contributes to the supervision and education of trainees, including medical residents and academic interns, in the John J. Lynch Center for Ethics.

10. Organizes, coordinates, and implements research projects relevant to the work of the John J. Lynch Center for Ethics.


EDUCATION: Master's degree in Philosophy, Ethics, Bioethics, Theology, or an equivalent discipline is required. Doctorate degree in Philosophy, Ethics, Bioethics, Theology or an equivalent terminal degree (ie JD, MD) is preferred. Successful completion of a fellowship in clinical ethics is highly preferred.

PRIOR EXPERIENCE: Approximately two to three years of progressively more responsible job related experience. Previous clinical ethics consultation experience highly preferred.

ON-THE-JOB EXPERIENCE: Approximately six to twelve months to gain familiarity with the hospital environment, department routines and procedures, and the full range of job duties.

PROBLEM SOLVING: Job requires a high level of problem-solving due to the complexity of the situations encountered.

INTERNAL CONTACTS: Internal contacts necessary to effectively explain and interpret information for others inside the Hospital.

INDEPENDENT JUDGEMENT: Work assignments are generally received in the form of results expected, due dates, and general approach to be taken.

PATIENT CARE: Works adjacent to clinical patient care. Must be comfortable with a health care setting.

RESPONSIBILITY FOR WORK OF OTHERS: Incumbent is not responsible for supervising others.

CERTIFICATION/REGISTRATION/LICENSURE: No special certification, registration, or licensure is required.

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