Joseph B. Fanning is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He serves as the Director of the Clinical Ethics Consultation Service and works with patients, families and clinicians on ethical concerns that arise in health care.
He received undergraduate training at Birmingham-Southern College (B.A. 1993) completed masters work at Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div., 2000, Th.M., 2001); and earned his doctorate in the Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt University (Ph.D. 2008).
His research focuses on the role of communication and interpersonal skills in the development of therapeutic relationships across clinical contexts. Most recently, he and other members of a research team authored an article in Qualitative Health Research identifying obstacles to sharing expectations in a critical care context. He has co-authored a book based on fifty-five patient interviews titled, What Patients Teach: The Everyday Ethics of Healthcare (Oxford University Press, Fall 2013). In 2009, Fanning co-edited with Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton a special issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics that focused on spiritual and religious issues in medical genetics.
Fanning also teaches healthcare ethics across Vanderbilt working with students in the schools of Medicine and Nursing as well as with trainees across multiple residency and fellowship programs. He is also the lead instructor for undergraduate course in the College of Arts and Science titled “Death and Dying in America” that combines experiential learning through hospice volunteering with interdisciplinary engagement of the issues that surround death and dying.