Alice Herb

BA, Syracuse University. JD, LLM, New York University School of Law. Clinical Professor Emerita, SUNY Downstate Medical Center; ethics consultant to New York Methodist Hospital. Formerly ethics consultant to the Brooklyn Hospital Center (1994-2003); formerly TV news and cultural affairs producer, director, and writer. Special interest in clinical ethics, particularly in channels/barriers between health-care professionals and patients/families, cultural diversity and its effect on physician/patient interaction, ethical challenges encountered by medical students, and the continuing dilemma in human subject research; currently involved in an initiative to amend the health law in New York State and developing a survey on ethical challenges for medical students. Author: Autonomy, the Encyclopedia of Care of the Elderly (Springer Publishing Company, 2007); co-author with Burke and Swidler, “Three Stubborn Misconceptions About the Authority of Health Care Agents,” NYSBA’s Health Law; Myers, M & Herb, A, "Ethical Dilemmas Encountered in Clerkship Rotations" Academic Medicine 2013, SLC, 1996—

Current graduate courses

Ethics and Advocacy


This course explores a range of ethical dilemmas confronting clinicians, patients, families, and administrators that arise in acute care, ambulatory-care settings, long-term care facilities, and other institutions providing health care. Included is an examination of issues such as informed consent, competency/capacity to make decisions, refusal of treatment, withholding and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, confidentiality, maternal-fetal conflicts and treatment, physician-patient relationships, research ethics, and implications of new genetic advances and technology. The goal is to integrate a didactic approach to the issues with the student’s own fieldwork placements and to provide students an ethical framework within which to consider dilemmas that may arise in the course of patient advocacy. In-depth discussion focuses on fundamental ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence/non-malfeasance, and justice, as well as specific legal concepts. Students are provided with a range of perspectives necessary to assess and resolve dilemmas that arise in clinical practice.


Previous courses



Discussion of ethical issues as they relate – to genetic counseling.