Release Date: June 4, 2020

Expiration Date: June 4, 2023

Amount of CME credit: 2.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™

Amount of Nursing Contact Hours: 2.0 Contact Hours

Estimated Length of Time for Completion: 2 hours

Program Overview

This course provides an overview of how clinicians and policymakers have approached the rationing of health care resources, as well as an ethical framework that can inform present and future rationing and resource allocation decisions. During the course, we delineate a system for ethically allocating resources based on 4 principles: 

  • Treating people equally. 
  • Favoring the worst off. 
  • Maximizing total benefits. 
  • Promoting and rewarding social usefulness. 

We apply that system to the case of vaccine allocation during a flu pandemic. And we explore the implications of that system for more general resource allocation questions like prioritizing the provision of high-value care. 

This activity is co-provided by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Medicine Nursing.Penn Med logo

Target Audience

Clinicians, administrators, and policymakers planning for rationing during COVID-19 and preparing for future scenarios that require the allocation of scarce resources. 

Educational Objectives

 After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Define rationing and resource allocation in a health care context. 
  • Identify and evaluate principles underlying health care rationing decisions. 
  • Explain the Complete Lives System for making rationing and decisions. 
  • Explain how the Complete Lives System can be applied to health care policy decisions.

Successful completion of this educational activity and receipt of certificate of credit includes achieving a minimum score of 88% on the 1 quiz. 

Accreditation and Designation of Credit

In support of improving patient care, Penn Medicine is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.


The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Penn Medicine designates this enduring material for a maximum of 2.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


Penn Medicine Nursing is an approved provider of continuing nursing education by the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.  Approval # 124-3-H-15.

Penn Medicine Nursing awards this activity 2.0 contact hours.

Physician Assistants

AAPA accepts certificates of participation for educational activities certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by ACCME or a recognized state medical society.

PAs may receive a maximum of 2.0 Category 1 credits for completing this activity.

Meet the Faculty

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD

Ezekiel J. Emanuel is the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, and Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the founding chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health until August 2011. He served as a Special Advisor on Health Policy to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council during the Obama administration. He is also a breast oncologist.

Dr. Emanuel received his MD from Harvard Medical School and his PhD in political philosophy from Harvard University and has published widely on health care reform, research ethics, and end-of-life care. His book Reinventing American Health Care examines the history of the U.S. health care system, the Affordable Care Act, and health care predictions for the future. Its sequel, Prescription for the Future, was released in June 2017. Dr. Emanuel also serves as a Venture Partner at Oak HC/FT in addition to serving as contributor for the New York Times and Fox News.

He began teaching online with a massive open online course on Coursera in 2013 and has since shaped his experiences and research into brief video lectures on medical ethics and health policy issues for continuing education, professional development, and academic learners.

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The planning committee members have disclosed that they have no relevant financial relationships with any commercial interests related to the content of this educational activity:

  • Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBe 
  • Steven Joffe, MD, MPH 
  • Connie Ulrich, PhD, MSN 
  • Adam Zolkover, MA 
  • Laura C. Hart, MFA 

The faculty involved with this activity have reported that their presentations contain no mention of investigational and/or off-label use of products.

Acknowledgment of Commercial Support

There was no commercial support used in the development of this educational activity.


If you have questions, please contact Caitlin O'Neill, Program Manager for Online Educational Initiatives, at 215-746-3971 or

For questions related to this educational activity, contact Penn Medicine Continuing Medical and Interprofessional Education at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania at or at 215-898-8005.