At three academic institutions, faculty members recently piloted 13 ethics modules for neonatology fellows.1 Of the 44 neonatology fellows who participated, baseline ethics knowledge and confidence in addressing ethical dilemmas improved significantly.

“It is critical for clinicians to be able to navigate challenging ethical dilemmas and communicate effectively and compassionately with patients and their families,” says Christy L. Cummings, MD, one of the study’s authors and director of medical ethics & humanities for newborn medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.

This study builds on prior work. “Given a lack of established curricula in ethics and professionalism for neonatology trainees, we conducted a national needs assessment to determine adequacy of current ethics training during neonatal-perinatal medicine fellowship,” Cummings says.2

Based on these data, Cummings and colleagues developed and published a peer-reviewed curriculum, a hybrid of educational methods, including simulation, enacted role-play with professional actors, and in-depth discussion.3 Modules can be completed in order or asynchronously, depending on the needs and interests of learners. The curriculum also can be completed remotely or in person. “We hope that this curriculum is helpful for interprofessional trainees [and] faculty and staff in pediatrics, neonatology, and ethics,” Cummings says.


  1. Geis GM, Feldman HA, Berson ER, Cummings CL. Developing a digitally innovative ethics and professionalism curriculum for neonatal-perinatal medicine fellows: A 3-year multicenter pilot study. J Perinatol 2021; Sep 9. doi: 10.1038/s41372-021-01203-6. [Online ahead of print].
  2. Cummings CL, Geis GM, Kesselheim JC, Sayeed S. Ethics and professionalism education during neonatal-perinatal fellowship training in the United States. J Perinatol 2015;35:875-879.
  3. Cummings CL. Teaching and assessing ethics in the newborn ICU. Semin Perinatol 2016;40:261-269.