The AMA Journal of Ethics is an open-access, MEDLINE-indexed online journal that receives over one million visits annually. Our editorial mission is to help medical students and physicians make sound ethical decisions in service to patients and society.


We invite medical students, residents, and fellows (MDs or DOs) in United States-based programs to apply to serve as theme issue editors for monthly issues to be published from December 2019 through November 2020.


Each theme issue editor (TIE) must do the following:

In your application, please explain why you and your faculty mentor (who does not need to be a physician, but should have professional experience and expertise in ethics) are qualified to explore the theme you propose and able to complete the assignments above. Be sure to include your faculty mentor’s email address and telephone number in your application.

  1. Propose a title that describes a theme and characterizes a set of ethical issues you’d like to explore in a monthly issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics. Please explain in your application why this theme and set issues are interesting, important, complex, neglected, or otherwise worthy of fuller scholarly exploration.
  2. Secure and identify in your application a faculty mentor who agrees to help you accomplish the following:

    a)  Develop three cases that raise questions of ethical importance to be addressed by invited experts in analytical commentaries.

    b)  Write and revise proposals for questions to be addressed by authors you invite to write manuscripts for other content areas, such as Medical Education, Policy Forum, and Medicine and Society. (Descriptions of more AMA Journal of Ethics manuscript types can be found in the Instructions for Authors. Typically, each theme issue will contain eight manuscripts authored by invited experts, artwork in the Art of Medicine section, and two unsolicited, peer-reviewed manuscripts accepted in response to a call for papers. 

    c)  Identify, invite, and secure experts or artists to contribute written or visual assets to the theme issue.

  3. Create multimedia content and use social media to publicize your theme issue. Each TIE is required to help our digital editor with promoting and publicizing the theme issue on social media as needed, finding or creating images to promote engagement with theme issue content, and assisting the editorial staff in developing a brief (7-10 minute) podcast in which an expert or two are recorded in a conversation that relates the theme issue to current events. In your application, please explain how you, with help from your faculty mentor, plan to do these tasks innovatively and efficiently.

  4. Work closely with AMA Journal of Ethics editorial staff to generate ideas and gather content, according to production schedule deadlines, from invited contributors.
  5. Attend the entire working conference (held on the first Monday and Tuesday in February each year—so, 4-5 February 2019) of all TIEs for the 2019-2020 production calendar at AMA Headquarters in Chicago.

How to Apply

Send a single PDF attachment, with your last name only as the file name to Mr. Kelly Shaw ([email protected]). This single PDF must contain the following two items:

  1. A one-page curriculum vitae summary that includes your contact information.
  2. A proposal (1,000-word maximum) articulating your responses to 1-3 above. (For example, about half of your proposal should be devoted to 1, explaining why your proposed theme is interesting, important, complex, neglected, or otherwise worthy of fuller scholarly exploration. The remaining half of your proposal should address 2a-c and 3.)

Please note that everything you want us to consider as part of your application must be in this PDF attachment, not in the text of your email message. Submissions must be received by 5pm central time, as marked by email time-stamp when received by the AMA, on Monday 1 October 2018. (Authors who have waited even until 4:55, for example, to submit have occasionally been disappointed, due to transmission delays, so please plan accordingly.) Applications not meeting content and formatting criteria will not be reviewed.


Preference will be given to proposals on innovative, interesting, important issues of ethical complexity in health care and health policy, which consider the nature and scope of the roles of medicine and the importance of preparing current and future physicians to address these issues. For the 2019-2020 publication cycle, we are particularly interested in exploring the following: health care professionals in government, anesthesia ethics, prosthetics ethics, health care and design, innovations in health equity research, intersections of medicine and epidemiology, ethics and citizen health science, clinical trial registration and evidence-based practice, uses of force in complex patient care situations, psychosurgery ethics, ethics literacy, patient “turfing” and “placement” decisions, system “gaming” to help patients, ethical implications of wearable diagnostic and monitoring devices, ethical dimensions of pricing transparency and clinical management decisions, ethics of bed crises and diversion protocols, health system-led drug and device companies, and health care as a source of harm.

Upon successful completion of all duties, each TIE receives a $2,000 stipend.