The Bioethics Department at Sinai Health aims to improve awareness, exploration and management of bioethical issues. We support members of the Sinai Health community (i.e. patients, families, employees, physicians, volunteers, learners, and the Board of Directors) as they address ethical challenges in the four domains of bioethics: clinical, organizational, education, and research. We assist with ethical problems that arise in health care and research settings. Sinai Health’s Ethics Framework guides our practice and articulates our organization’s approach to identifying and addressing bioethics-related issues and concerns.
The Bioethics Department is a consulting service that provides expertise in navigating ethical issues in health care. We offer services in the following four domains:
The goal of clinical ethics is to improve the quality of patient care by identifying, analyzing and attempting to resolve the ethical problems that arise in clinical practice, often related to the care of an individual patient. We offer clinical consultations to patients, families, employees, physicians, learners and volunteers.
Organizational ethics focuses on the ways that organizational values are reflected in organizational structures and behaviour. Organizational ethics consultations often involve providing input during the creation of organizational policies.
Ethics education helps to raise awareness and develop knowledge about ethical issues in health care. We provide training and capacity building for employees and trainees across health disciplines to recognize and analyze ethical issues. We are affiliated with and teach at the University of Toronto (U of T) and many other academic institutions.
As a leading institution in research and innovation we believe it is important to lead research and scholarship on ethics-based questions that arise in patient care. Working within a health care setting allows our department to explore, and at times, conduct research, into important ethical questions which are at the forefront of health care delivery. We publish our work for academic and public audiences, prepare grants, and collaborate with other institutions on research projects.
Our areas of focus currently include:
- Moral distress and health care resilience
- Women’s and infants health
- Neonatal-perinatal medicine
- Advance care planning
- Mental health
- Medical assistance in dying
- Allocation of health care resources
When to Contact Ethics
Dealing with issues related to:
Health-care professional/patient relationship
- informed consent
- competence or capacity
- freedom of choice (freedom from manipulation, deception and coercion)
- truth telling
- fidelity and loyalty
- integrity, etc.
Beginning and end of life care
- suicide, or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment
- substitute decision making (determinations of best interests, the role of advance directives), etc.
- euthanasia and assisted death
Other ethical issues
- organizational ethics and felt voicelessness (issues of power and authority)
- ethical issues arising from diversity (gender, sexuality, religion, culture)
- the ethics of gate-keeping and caring in the face of medical futility or lack of resources
Education and Training Opportunities
Electives, Selectives and Practicums
For students registered in bioethics or health discipline university programs, we offer electives, selectives and practicums.
University of Toronto - Fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Ethics (FiNPE)
The University of Toronto (UofT) Fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Ethics is a two-year, full time program designed to prepare physicians to become leaders in neonatal-perinatal ethics in both health care settings and academic institutions. The program commences in July.
This two-year fellowship draws on the knowledge and expertise of clinicians from the Toronto Centre for Neonatal Health (TCNH) and the Bioethics Departments at the TCNH tertiary sites. Completion of the fellowship will prepare graduates to be leaders in bioethics discourse and scholarship.
Fellows complete a master’s in bioethics at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics (JCB). Fellows will be expected to pay the enrollment fees for their master’s program, while their salary will be covered by SickKids. The JCB offers two options: Master of Health Science (MHSc) in Bioethics or Collaborative Specialization in Bioethics (CSB).
Bioethics Research Volunteer Opportunity
About the Position
Volunteers are matched with a supervisor and location (Mount Sinai Hospital and/or Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital) depending on their interests and available projects.
Goals of the Position
The volunteer will work on an academic project relevant to the Bioethics Department towards a manuscript suitable for academic publication or an academic poster.
- An interest in ethical issues in women’s & infants’ health, complex care, rehab, mental health, adult medicine etc.
- Completed undergraduate degree with experience in philosophy, medicine, nursing, social work, law, religious studies, and/or other clinical, humanities and social science disciplines
- Keen interest to discover, learn, and advance the science of care at Sinai Health
A minimum of a half day a week during the academic year and a full day per week in the summer.
Winter Program: November 14, 2022
Summer Program: March 1, 2023
Fall Program: July 12, 2023
Applications must include the following:
- Full CV
- Writing sample
- Names of two referees
- A letter of intent describing: (a) why you are interested in a volunteer studentship; (b) your background in bioethics to date; (c) topics in bioethics that you would be interested in researching and writing about during a studentship
Sinai Health and the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics (JCB) have a 20-year history of collaboration. The Bioethics Department is an affiliated health organization of the JCB and the Sinai Health Bioethicists are active affiliates of the JCB’s Clinical, Organizational, and Research Ethics (CORE) Network. Visit Joint Centre for Bioethics.
- Sinai Health Ethics Framework (PDF)
- Frequently Asked Questions on Advance Care Planning
- Frequently Asked Questions on Bioethics Consultations
- Frequently Asked Questions on Consent to Treatment
- Frequently Asked Questions on Decision-Making Capacity
- Frequently Asked Questions on Substitute Decision-Making
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