Healthcare Ethicist

About me

Welcome all! My name is Ryan. I am a healthcare ethics consultant and scholar whose work focuses on bolstering patient-centered care. Currently, I serve as a Senior Fellow of Clinical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College. I received an MSW and PhD in Social Welfare at UCLA.

In my fellowship, I conduct clinical ethics consultation services in addition to scholarship and teaching. This July 2023, I will be joining the Baylor College of Medicine's Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy as an assistant professor, where I will continue ethics consultation services, research, and teaching.

Click here for my LinkedIn, which details my past work. Of course, feel free to contact me for opportunities to collaborate, inquiries about guest lecturing (undergraduate, MSW, or MD students), or to learn more about my work. I'm always happy to meet.
Clinical Ethics Consultation
As a clinical ethics consultant, I work on a range of issues such as treatment refusal in patients without decision-making capacity, goals of care at end-of-life, and disagreements among surrogate decision-makers for patients. I draw from a facilitation-based approach to explore the concerns of patients, their treatment teams, and health care institutions to resolve ethical problems. I further draw from my training as both a social worker and ethnographer to identify how power dynamics in treatment spaces operate. This aids me in upholding a patient-centered framework that centers their experiences, preferences, and values in healthcare. I believe this approach is particularly important for vulnerable populations without decision-making capacity or representation in their care.

I infuse a pedagogical approach in my work as a consultant. I actively present at committee meetings and rounds for various departments in my current role. I use these opportunities to not only highlight for treatment teams key concepts in bioethics, but also the role of structural inequality in shaping ethical problems encountered in delivering health care.

I passed the Healthcare Ethics Consultation Certification (HEC-C) exam in November 2022.

My research examines how social inequities shape health and mental health systems for vulnerable populations. In particular, I am interested in exploring how social inequities shape how we respond to ethical problems that emerge in designing and implementing health services. To accomplish this, I use qualitative research methods to examine moral problems that emerge in service delivery between patients and their treatment providers. My aim is to provide insights on how to better realize our ethical commitments and create a more just health care system.

I draw across interdisciplinary perspectives, including sociology, anthropology, and social work, as well as critical theoretical perspectives in feminist, disability, and mad studies in order to highlight the role of power in shaping the ways medical and social services are delivered and experienced. To read more about more work, check out my publications, current projects, and blog linked above.

I completed my PhD in Social Welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles. My dissertation, titled Medicating Vulnerability through State Psychiatry: An Ethnography of Client Manipulation in Involuntary Outpatient Commitment, examined moral problems in the management of psychiatric medications in involuntary services.  A major emphasis of my training included statistical, qualitative, and mixed methodologies to evaluate health policies and programs.

I received my MSW at UCLA in 2017 with an emphasis on mental health policy. In 2014, I received my BS in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan.


Ryan J. Dougherty, PhD, MSW, HEC-C

Senior Fellow of Clinical Ethics


Division of Medical Ethics

Weill Cornell Medical


Follow this website

You need to create an Owlstown account to follow this website.

Sign up

Already an Owlstown member?

Log in