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Medical Ethicist Job Description, Career as a Medical Ethicist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training:— Bachelor’s degree in bioethics, medical ethics, or medical law.

Salary: Median— $46,672 annually

Employment Outlook:— Good

The role of a medical ethicist is being considered as one of increasing importance in the field of health care. Medical ethics is a primary branch of applied ethics, and medical ethicists study the application of moral values and judgments in the field of medical science.

In the present scenario, it has become extremely important to create a balance between science and ethics in order to safeguard against malpractices in the field of medical treatment and research. Rapid expansion in the areas of stem cell research, euthanasia, and cloning, has given rise to many controversies. Medical ethicists are responsible for examining the effectiveness and analyzing the risk factors associated with proposed medical procedures. They are generally employed in hospitals, medical ethics committees, and research organizations.

Education and Training Requirements

Candidates aspiring to become medical ethicists need to pursue a degree course in bioethics or medical ethics. A number of colleges and universities offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in medical law and bioethics. These programs focus on the existing laws governing medical science, the application of ethics, jurisprudence, religion, and analysis of research procedures and healthcare issues.

Candidates holding law degrees can also take up the profession of medical ethicists. However, it is necessary for law students to specialize in health law. They also need to get a degree or certification in medical ethics or bioethics.

Getting the Job

Medical ethicists can find employment in healthcare facilities and organizations dealing with health law. Although these jobs are usually advertised in newspapers and Internet job sites, it is important for medical ethicists to socialize with others in the profession. Networking plays a crucial role when it comes to finding suitable employment. Since a lot of job opportunities in this field are offered by academic institutions, it is a good idea to keep in touch with college classmates and professors. Non-profit organizations also recruit medical ethicists. In addition, one can join a research organization, or get into private practice.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Medical ethicists can start out by working for smaller organizations or NGOs. With experience, one can apply for positions in government departments. Those with a degree in medical law can start their own practices and take on medical malpractice cases.

Due to the increasing importance of medical ethics in recent years, there has been a great demand for qualified professionals in this field. Employment opportunities are expected to be good in the next few years, and prospects will be extremely favorable for candidates having an advanced degree in medical ethics, and sufficient experience.

Working Conditions

Medical ethicists work in clean and well lit surroundings. Most of the professionals in this field enjoy regular 40-hour work weeks. Lawyers and medical ethicists in private practice enjoy flexible work schedules. The job may also call for a certain amount of travel since medical ethicists may have to visit clients at their homes or in healthcare centers.

Where to Go for More Information

Association for Medical Ethics
c/o Charles Rosen, MD
UC Irvine Spine Center
Pavilion 3, 2nd Floor, 101 The City Drive
Orange, CA 92868

American Medical Association
515 N. State Street
Chicago, IL 60654

The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics

The American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics
765 Commonwealth Avenue
Suite 1634
Boston, Massachusetts 02215

National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature
Kennedy Institute of Ethics
Georgetown University
Box 571212
Washington, DC 20057-1212

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

The salary of medical ethicists in the United States varies greatly depending on their level of experience. The median annual salary of medical ethicists with less than 4 years of experience is $30,518. Those with around 10 years of experience earn around $38,920 per year, while the salaries of more experienced medical ethicists are in the range of $54,000 to $63,250.

Medical ethicists employed in full-time positions enjoy regular benefits like paid leaves, vacations, and medical and life insurance coverage. Those in government service may also receive perks in the form of pension plans.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine