'Bioethicists' Proliferate Despite Undefined Career Track

Bioethics is "definitely a growth industry," says Norman Fost. So you want to be a bioethicist. Join the rather crowded, ever-growing club. Bioethics centers and programs continue to proliferate as doctors, lawyers, and persons of every conceivable background remain intrigued by issues ranging from human cloning to managed health care. As Arthur Caplan, the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, puts it, bioethics has moved from "infancy into adolescence." Th

Eugene Russo
Apr 11, 1999


Bioethics is "definitely a growth industry," says Norman Fost.
So you want to be a bioethicist. Join the rather crowded, ever-growing club. Bioethics centers and programs continue to proliferate as doctors, lawyers, and persons of every conceivable background remain intrigued by issues ranging from human cloning to managed health care. As Arthur Caplan, the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, puts it, bioethics has moved from "infancy into adolescence."

There's something of a transition under way: Traditionally viewed as a multidisciplinary area, bioethics, which first started to pick up steam in the early '70s, has started to come into its own as a legitimate interdisciplinary field. Most persons currently working in bioethics got their formal training not in bioethics programs, but in fields like law, medicine, philosophy, religion, or sociology. That appears to be changing as degree programs gain popularity.

"It certainly seems like...