Ethics

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:

Clinical

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

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.

Education

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.

Research

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
  • confidentiality
  • privacy
  • fidelity and loyalty
  • trust
  • integrity, etc.

Beginning and end of life care

  • personhood
  • 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. To explore any of these opportunities please email Rebecca Greenberg.

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).

For further details about the program and application requirements, please email Rebecca Greenberg, Fellowship Program Director.

Volunteer Studentship - Mount Sinai Hospital or Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital

The Bioethics Department at Sinai Health offers studentship opportunities to students interested in bioethics. Students are matched with a supervisor and location (Mount Sinai Hospital and/or Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital) depending on their interests and available projects. The studentship is ideal for those with an interest in ethical issues in women’s and infants’ health (including antenatal, perinatal, neonatal, fertility, labour and delivery, etc.) and complex care, rehab, mental health and adult medicine etc.

Goals of studentship

The student will work on an academic project relevant to the work and activities of the Bioethics Department. The project will work towards a manuscript suitable for academic publication or an academic poster.

Eligibility

We accept students from the traditional bioethics feeder disciplines, including philosophy, medicine, nursing, social work, law, religious studies, as well as other clinical, humanities, and social science disciplines.

Hours

The volunteer studentship in the academic year is centered on a project to be determined together by the student and supervisor. A minimum of three hours per week will be required during the academic year. Summer students will be required to commit a minimum of one day per week.

Application deadlines

Summer Program: April 1, 2022
Fall Program: July 22, 2022
Winter Program: November 18, 2022

Applications must include the following:

  1. Full CV
  2. Writing sample
  3. Names of two referees
  4. 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

Contact: Rebecca Greenberg, Senior Bioethicist, [email protected]

External Partnerships

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.

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