Center Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl recently presented the paper “The Value of Circus Clowns: What Clinical Ethicists Can Learn from Chaplains About Credentialing, Standardization, and Professionalization” at the 2016 Conference on Medicine and Religion. The conference was held in Houston, TX.
Drawing from an old analogy for a hospital chaplain being akin to a circus clown, Dr. Stahl’s presentation highlighted the critical overlaps between chaplains and ethicists as they pertain to the challenges of standardization and credentialing. Using her experience as both a hospital chaplain and clinical ethicist, Dr. Stahl explored topics such as ideological diversity, outcomes measurement, training, public visibility, and pluralism as they pertain to both roles. Dr. Stahl argued that there is continuing value in understanding the role of the clinical ethicist as a kind of outsider on the health care team, and that clinical ethics consultants have much to learn from their chaplain counterparts on how to maintain a clown-like status.