The University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., has teamed up with the National Catholic Bioethics Center to offer its students a master’s of science degree option in bioethics. “The University of Mary is answering the call from the Church to work toward establishing a culture of life which respects and safeguards human dignity,” University of Mary president Msgr. James Shea said in a statement. “We’re at a critical time in our culture,” he said. “We need systematic formation of health care professionals who are able to apply the Catholic moral tradition to challenging contemporary issues.” The school is the first in its state of North Dakota and one of a few Catholic institutions in the country to offer such a program. Students will earn 12 graduate credits by completing National Catholic Bioethics Center Certification — a comprehensive program that immerses students in the teachings of the Catholic Church on moral issues related to healthcare so that they can apply it to their work. The program is based on the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, issued by the U.S. Bishops Conference to provide a moral framework for Catholics who may face “ethical dilemmas” while working in medical fields. Dr. Karen Rohr, associate professor and new director of Bioethics and Faculty Formation at the University of Mary, described the program as being “grounded in faith and reason.” “As health care professionals, we encounter complex ethical issues on a daily basis,” she said. “Technological advances are making it imperative that healthcare providers understand and manage emerging ethical dilemmas as they occur and have the skills to guide patients, families, clinicians, and ethics committees toward resolution.” The program could benefit those who work in a wide variety of areas such as churches, universities, health care facilities, biomedical research facilities and government offices. The University of Mary has a student body of over 3,000 and was founded by the Benedictine Sisters of the Annunciation, several of whom make up the faculty and staff of the university. The National Catholic Bioethics Center was created in 1972 to help Catholics understand how the Church’s moral teachings apply to health care and life sciences.